Politics

To Judge or not to Judge

Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing for Amy Coney Barrett

I am watching the confirmation hearings for selecting Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the next member to the United States Supreme Court. What a waste of time even holding the hearings.

Democrats are trying to get the Judge to answer how she views different case outcomes or potential outcomes. The Judge keeps refusing to give any hints on how she may rule on any case. Okay, likely a good course. Especially if you don’t want to taint yourself by showing your true feelings on any aspect of law. Consider though that the idea any person can completely set aside their personal opinions and beliefs and rule on an aspect of the law impartially is suspect. I just can’t buy that they can.

Republicans spend their time throwing roses to the Judge, telling her how wonderful she is. They then spend time in pontificating on the political stand being taken by the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee. Of course they ask no questions about her views on the law, knowing she won’t provide an answer.

I’ve seen this more than once in my life. It hasn’t changed really. I also don’t care about the arguments made (by Democrats) of how this nomination is being rammed through this close to election day. The whole thing is theater. The Democrats would do the same thing if they had the chance. Neither side has any moral high ground to stand on. If Democrats controlled the Senate and refused to move forward, Republicans would be screaming foul. Six of one, half-dozen of another.

I am of the opinion that this whole process for selecting members of the Court should even exist? There is no fairness in these type of proceedings. The members of the Committee are not worried one damn bit about what the people may, or may not, want. How could they when the people haven’t been asked? In other words, the process is flawed and appointments to any federal court system are only the will of the Senate.

Justices can be impeached. Only one has, Justice Samuel Chase in 1804. The Senate did not convict Justice Chase, so he remained on the Supreme Court. With a lifetime appointment, federal judges and the SCOTUS Justices have a long reaching effects on the laws in the United States. The people can do nothing about any judge or Justice with regard to their acceptability to be on the courts and their tenure (short of amending the US Constitution). This is an area that should be changed.

Here’s an option that should be considered. Let the Senate have their power to bring a judge or justice to a federal court. But, that lifetime appointment should not be continued for the Appellate or Supreme Courts. Why not have their tenure voted upon by the people every decade after being placed on the bench? So, how can we vote on them all every ten years?

There are 9 Supreme Court Justices and 179 Appellate Courts judges. So 188 members of the judiciary that would have to be voted upon by the people every ten years. Not all would be voted on at the same time, as it would happen ten years from the appointment of each individual judge. The voting would occur in a national election cycle (2 or 4 years), with the judges placed into the closest election cycle for their initial retention vote. Let their record on the bench be the information used by the people to decide. If voted out, no judge could ever hold a seat on the federal courts ever again. This keeps the Senate’s partisanship from subverting the will of the voters.

Now, you can say this won’t work, but you’d be wrong. Many States have retention votes for State Supreme Court judges, so it can work just as well at the federal level. It would require voters to familiarize themselves with a judges record, or it could be that there would be groups that would speak to their records to inform the voting population. Either is fine, just as long as the judges are not allowed to campaign for keeping their job. I’ll grant that it is not a perfect system, but it sure seems better than a judge facing a Senate hearing and vote once in their career.

But, one would ask how that guarantees a judge’s impartiality in their rulings? I would answer that by asking how is impartiality guaranteed currently? No, don’t try to argue that if they’re not they can be impeached. I refer you to paragraph six above. We can not count on Congress, any more than we can with Presidential impeachments. Plus, why should we? If the People are the final authority on how we are ruled, then the People have the right to directly decide. Then, and only then, can we hold judges accountable for what rulings they make, instead of this question and non-answer back-and-forth in judiciary hearings in the Senate.

Take today for example. Judge Coney Barrett is assured a seat on the Supreme Court. On November 10th a case on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act will come before the Court. Now Justice Coney Barrett will be on the Court and will be ruling with the other Justices on the case, unless of course she recuses herself (not very likely). If she votes to overturn and the law and it is overturned, then the votes of the people will reflect whether she is right or not. The people will know how overturning the law has affected them for ten years and may well decide her removal is the correct response. Otherwise, there is no penalty for what she, along with the other Justices, may end up doing to the people in the United States. There should be no hiding from the people by any of them.

The only other choice is completely overturning the US political and legal system and instituting something completely new. That would be my preference, but the great majority of the people in the US are still sheep willing to be led around by the politicians in Congress and the President. Apparently they haven’t been screwed over enough yet to get angry and toss the whole damn thing into the dump.

Until next time

2 replies »

  1. I vote for completely overturning the US political and legal system, but I do like your alternate solution if that all we can get. Just last week I told Izzy we should re-do each part of the 3 branches of government. One branch at a time, pull it all down and build it back up, fixing the mistakes in thee way it was built last time. I just can’t see that happening unless we had a war. To think that people thing it was “so perfect” the first time is annoying. I mean, we have already had to fix quite a few fucked up parts of it over the short history of our country . But we the people have the right to dissolve this social contract with our government, it’s just not enough of us want to. And a ceding would never work. That’s just a fast mishmash of random thoughts I’ve had lately that your article triggered.

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    • The problem I see is that it can’t be done unless and until Capitalism and the elite that controls it is overturned. Otherwise they’ll just use their power to structure any changes to be advantageous to them even more than things are now. The other way is a complete revolution.

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