Thursday, January 6, 2011

Stepping Through the Looking Glass. Scalia to Attend a Tea Party

I always viewed the United States Constitution as a living document.  To quote Justice Brennan, the genius of the Constitution rests not in some static meaning in a world that is dead and gone but in the adaptability of its great principles to cope with current problems and current needs.  
I believe it is referred to as judicial pragmatism.  Originalists and most members of the tea party would disagree with me.  

I bring up the Constitution because everyone seems to be a constitutional scholar these days.  Many have taken to speaking like extras from the movie Braveheart. They refer to each other as fellow patriots who must rise to defend the oncoming slaught of tyranny. They tweet about what Madison's intentions were when he penned the Federalist papers. People who normally blog about their cats suddenly post their interpretations of Supreme Court rulings. They debate the definition and the intentions of our forefathers in what constitutes a natural born citizen. Some take the debate to a fever pitch as the Glenn Becks of the world feed the flames of misinformation with scare tactics. Of course, if you're holding a misspelled sign with Obama sporting a Hitler mustache, it makes it difficult for me to believe you should be considered a Constitutional scholar. 

Now, don't get me wrong.  I think it's wonderful that the citizenry is taking an interest in the documents that built the foundation of our nation.  My problem is with those who misinterpret the Constitution in an effort to inject misinformation into a highly charged debate.  I've spoken to clients who believe that Democrats want to have death panels, set up concentration camps, introduce communism, start a secret police force and to indoctrinate children.  I've met some of these kids that they fear will be indoctrinated.  Don't worry about it.  Remember his last report card.  The dumbass can't retain anything. 

Now it appears Justice Antonin Scalia will be addressing Republican House members to discuss the constitution.  He accepted the invitation from Rep. Tea Party Caucus founder Michele Bachman who is now leading efforts to repeal healthcare. Appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1986, Justice Antonin Scalia is the longest serving justice on the Supreme Court.  Like the tea partiers, he is an originalist.   This will be quite a pep talk for tea partiers.  

Sitting justices have in the past met with Congressional caucuses.  Its nothing new.  But Bachman is leading the charge to repeal healthcare.  Legal challenges to healthcare will probably find themselves before the Supreme Court during the next term.  It just doesn't sit right.  In my humble opinion, a sitting justice should not be straddling one side of the political fence.  Under the Republicans new ethics rules, four former members of Congress who are now lobbyists, will not be able to have access to the Congressional gym.  Last year, Clarence Thomas's wife was asked to step down from a tea party affiliated political action group that pushed to elect conservative candidates.   In all these situations there was an appearance of impropriety.  It is something judges should avoid.  

 As George Washington University Professor John Turley posted on his venerable blog "Ultimately, this trend must be attributed to a failure on the part of Chief Justice Roberts to maintain core principles of neutrality and proper decorum on the Court."  Ironically, Scalia's speech is on the separation of powers.

No comments: