...and Justice for many people

April 19, 2016


Lawrance Bernabo
The Sneezing Opossum

In the past couple months, I have seen nothing to change my mind about what will happen with the United States Supreme Court. Republicans are never going to let Barack Obama appoint a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia. They are never going to let Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or any other Democratic president appoint a replacement either.

The flip side is that Democrats are not going to allow Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, or any other Republican president to appoint a conservative to that seat. While the Democrats may well regain control of the Senate, there is no reason to believe they will get the 60-vote majority needed to confirm a presidential appointment on a party line vote, so I remain convinced that nobody will be confirmed to the Supreme Court—not nobody, not nohow.

My bet is that we will be down to two or more openings on the Court before either party gets to 60.

The Supreme Court requires six members to hold a quorum, so we have a ways to go until that point. But Stephen Breyer is 77, Anthony Kennedy is 79, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 83. Scalia was only 79 when he passed away this year.

Kennedy was appointed by Ronald Reagan, the other two by Bill Clinton, and think what a difference it makes whose seat opens up next. It could be 4-3 for the liberals or the conservatives, at which point both parties double down on not letting the other side have their way.

Nobody on the Supreme Court is ever going to resign. They might announce an intent to retire as soon as a replacement is appointed, but odds are they would die before that happens. After 50 years in which no sitting Supreme Court justice has died, we have had two deaths already this century and that might become the norm.

A letter in the local paper pointed out that “many people” do not want the Senate to even consider a Supreme Court appointment during the election. The clear evidence from national polls is that “most people” do want the Senate to at least go through the motions.

The letter points out that America might be predicated on the will of the people, but nowhere does it say that it has the be the will of most of the people. Having the support of “many people” instead of “most people” would sure make it easier to get things done.

Think of it: A government of many people, by many people, for many people. There is ample evidence we are already there. Whomever wins the Republican nomination will clearly have the support of “many Republicans,” but not “most.” Then again, Republicans are a lot more likely to endorse this “many people” theory of politics.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell keeps insisting the American people “have a voice” in who appoints the next justice. Of course, if the American people elect Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, McConnell and the Republicans will quickly decide the American people misspoke. Maybe they will even point out that “many people” did not vote for the winner.


I do not know why Democrats are complaining that Republicans are not following the Constitution on this. Just because the Senate has the right to do so does not mean they have to exercise that right. Those are two completely different things. As Pat Paulsen said a long time ago, we have freedom of speech in America, but the Bill of Rights says nothing about freedom of hearing.

Finally, the Silver Bay City Council voted last month to remove Bent Paddle Brewing products from the municipal liquor store and lounge because of the Duluth brewery’s opposition to proposed copper mining in Minnesota.

It is one thing for ordinary citizens to boycott products, but it’s an interesting turn of events to have government do the same thing. Imagine a brave new world where Republicans can ban products by companies that support Democrats. Christian companies can refuse to stock products produced by non-Christians. We can ban everything from China; it was made by Communists.    

When Franklin Roosevelt had to appoint a new Chief Justice, he actually appointed a sitting justice, Harlan F. Stone—who had been appointed by Calvin Coolidge. Makes you wonder what the hell FDR was thinking, huh?

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