Friday, June 29, 2012

Justice Roberts Lives Up to His Title.

There's supposed  to be a reason these people are called justices.

There's an underlying concept which precludes them from being labeled lackeys or yes-men, groupies or roadies or toadies.

And the concept is justice.

The six men and three women who comprise the United States Supreme Court are tasked with one lofty burden: to interpret a two-hundred-year-old document which was penned during an era when status meant your teeth matched your coffee table and your doctor knocked a little off the bill if you brought in your own leeches.

And, just like a toddler who requires a little touching up after learning to use the commode, our constitution has needed a little Spray-n-Wash to eradicate some nasty slavery and women's rights stains.

But ultimately, these nine robed elders have repeatedly stood exposed in the drafty political wilderness, left to ponder profound issues without the benefit of either precedent or even one of those magic stones Joseph Smith was allowed to use.

Have the Supremes acted less loftily in the past, pandering to the politics of those who anointed them? You bet they have. Clarence Thomas hasn't participated in oral arguments for six years. Hasn't spoken a gull durn word. Thomas claims that since he's usually already decided cases prior to entertaining oral arguments, he finds no need to ask questions.

But come on—six years? It's comforting to know that Justice Thomas has opted for the multiple choice approach to constitutional law, checking option "c" on everything or peaking over at Alito's paper.

Then there's Antonin Scalia. This guy actually went duck hunting with Dick Cheney in 2009! Keep in mind, this was after VeePee Vader had sprayed another of his cronies with a lead facial while shooting at some sort of fowl in 2006, so not only was it a blazing conflict of interest for Scalia to fraternize with the very personification of evil, it was downright hazardous to the justice's face and neck.

Chief Justice John Roberts has also toed the Republican party line since donning our nation's highest smock in 2005. A Bush appointee, Roberts has supported restrictions on physician-assisted suicide and abortion, and the abolition of limits on corporate campaign donations. He's effectively presided over the most conservative Supreme Court in living memory.

But maybe this is a referee-type make-up call since Roberts so badly butchered President Obama's inaugural oath. Prior to hearing that he'd cast the deciding vote in favor of affirming the Affordable Healthcare Act, I thought there was a better chance that Rush Limbaugh would turn away a Dominican boy standing on his doorstep holding a pepperoni and percocet pizza.

Or that Sarah Palin would read Tiger Beat without moving her lips.

But maybe John Roberts is walking the walk on this one and pursuing a higher good. A couple of weeks ago I read Justice by Michael Sandel, a political philosophy professor at Harvard University. Using various examples, he examines, the necessary ingredients for a just society. 

In one case, let's assume that you are allowed to start from scratch, to formulate whatever rules you deem necessary to create your own society. In fact, you're beginning with so little information that you don't know where you'll personally land once the rules are established. Will you be a wealthy landowner? Will you live on the streets?

You have no idea, and hence you must establish your system accordingly.

In another scenario, you are a member of a community in which everyone is equally prosperous. Quality and quantity abound; no one desires even the slightest modifications to this Utopia...except one person.

A single child is imprisoned in a dark basement, cold and starving, suffering untold misery somewhere in your society. In fact, the reason your people are thriving is solely based upon the hardship of this one kid.

In your opinion, does your community's well being outweigh the pain and torture suffered by the child?

Justice says no, it doesn't. And apparently, so does Justice Roberts.

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