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Confirmation Farce, In Polarized Times

 I was wrong about Amy Coney Barrett; she is sitting on the Court, and the Republicans did go through with it. I think it was a terrible idea, for the sake of social peace, and cooperation between our elected representatives. Yet that judgment is probably weighted by the fact that I don't put much stock in the effort to put anti-Roe justices on the Supreme Court. I did not vote with the purpose to do that, so I must not have much faith in its success. Even if I thought it would be successful, I may not have supported the president, anyway.

It is silly that the Democrats want to ask people about their faith, and act incredulous, when they find someone who actually believes what their church teaches, especially in regard to sex. As we all know, Pleasure is the one and only sacrament in the Church of Self, and it has more members right now than anything else does. The Democrats don't even bother trying to hide it: they love religious belief, as long as it serves them, and doesn't get in the way of what they want to do.

Of course, the Republicans and their loyal followers do the exact same thing. Their rite in the Church of Self is the same, it just has some variations, involving wealth, "freedom" and whatever else.

Anyway, I probably was a bit too hasty, when I said that I would vote to confirm Judge Barrett, because every time we have one of these confirmation battles, I find myself unable to just shake off the pointed questions about the influence of corporations, and how these potential justices always seem to find for the corporations, and never seem to find the judicial authority to do otherwise. I can appreciate a certain desire of judges, in wanting to defer to the people's representatives, and to their legislative prerogatives. Yet it is rather convenient, when the judges' claims of tied hands just happens to coincide with a result which they would want to reach anyway.

Moreover, I have yet to see articulated anything approaching so-called "originalism" that has been applied in a principled manner, or taking into account the legitimate changes in our Constitution itself. It seems--and the membership in so-called "conservative" legal fraternities appears to confirm--that the American people are witness to a judicial branch which is just as ideological and partisan as any of us, and their alleged fealty to principle is nothing more than an opposition to what they oppose. In other words, I don't think anyone really knows what they mean by originalism, but I know what its advocates don't want, and don't like.

Judge Barrett would face no questions from me about the Catholic Church, or her membership in any such ancillary organizations as she deems appropriate. Yet I can tell you that the Republican attempt to give their nominees a verbal hug, especially after an intense round of questioning from the Democrats, is sickening. I don't want or need a discussion of some justice's pet cat, or how proud they were of having graduated from the extremely intimidating University law school which they no doubt attended. Beyond the opening statement, I don't need anyone to try to convince me that this is a normal human being, who is liked and loved by someone somewhere. And it is not that I would be intentionally unkind, or unwilling to exchange pleasantries on any level. It's just that, I would be the people's representative; they deserve to know important things about why this person would judge cases the way they would. They could probably use at least a cursory discussion of the terms and words involved in judicial ideologies, and in the normal decision-making process of any judge, regardless of ideology. These people are smart; if I ask one of these people--who have usually taught law students and the like--about real ideas in the legal profession, they should be able to give me that information. Personal questions especially about conduct are fair game, but only to the extent that the answer or non-answer may reflect on the temperament or the character of the individual. We play this game now, where none of the nominees actually answers anything--and I didn't even watch it--and one side pretends that the other side is vicious and horrible, and how can they besmirch such a noble and honorable judge, while they themselves get the nominee some warm milk, and some cookies, and asks if they enjoyed their last vacation.

Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island tends to ask questions of nominees appointed by Republicans that I actually want answers to. He and I don't agree on the morality or necessity of "reproductive choice," but beyond that, if he's mad, I can at least understand where it comes from.

I saw Senator Russ Feingold ask a question and make a statement that I appreciated once. I don't even remember who the judge was, but Feingold wanted to know if this particular person had re-examined his position on the death penalty in light of numerous degradations, and even court rulings intended to address those. Of course, this appointee had not, and made the allegedly appropriate noises about not bringing their moral judgments into the cases. First of all, there is nothing neutral about pretending to be philosophically and morally neutral. If the legal establishment is a bureaucratic edifice created for its own preservation, I can see why this myth would take hold. But no sane person comes to any situation where they conceivably could avoid making philosophical and ethical judgments. We already know this, when we're pretty sure we knew how Ruth Bader Ginsburg would rule on any abortion case. I don't want to torpedo any notion of impartiality altogether, but come on. The very notion that a judge would, or could, rule something expressly contrary to what they think best, is absurd.

Many people love to glorify judicial restraint, but it doesn't exist. The only thing I see judges restraining are the rulings made by the opposite judges. And if we are completely honest, I never saw any judge score any points with anyone for their limited rulings, as a matter of principle. I bought an entire book of Scalia dissents. I didn't buy the book for some deep intellectual exploration of judicial philosophy; I bought the book because we all know that Scalia's frustration with other justices is pretty entertaining.

If we know that we are participating in a farce, why does it make us so angry? We act like every battle will be the triumph of the Republic, or the end of it, but I haven't learned anything useful from one in a while.


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