Justice, Justice Shall Ye Seek

A citizen worth emulating [1]

The title above is the first line of Deuteronomy 16:20, yo. Biblical text, the original intent of the framers — Justice, justice shall you pursue. Which would you rather pursue as a life’s goal, fairness or unfairness? Doesn’t take an ancient mystic, or the exhortations of a holy book, to help you work out this uncomplicated riddle.

Unless, of course, you benefit tremendously from institutionalized unfairness, in which case, you can forgive yourself for calling it “Liberty” and creating a worldview centered on the inviolable right of the individual to do whatever she wants with her wealth, outside of things like steal, murder and rape, of course, actual, legally defined stealing and murder the law will hold you accountable for and rape that you can actually lead to your prosecution and jailing. Outside of actual rape and murder, survival of the most liberty-loving! We have a dominant (if demographically doomed) political party that now explicitly stands for this worldview.

One of the last dissents of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s long, principled life (possibly the last, as far as I’m aware) was a plain-spoken and clear-eyed analysis of the problems with the narrow legal reasoning used by a 5-4 minority to restrict voting in Wisconsin during a pandemic. The dissent was the first writing by the Notorious RBG that I recall reading, not long before the end of her remarkable life, and I was very impressed. Clearly written, clearly reasoned, laying out, in a few broad strokes, the human story deleted from Boof Kavanaugh’s nakedly partisan “narrow legal” attempt to help his party attain a slight electoral edge in the justice game.

Reading Kavanaugh’s ruling, in which he took the dissent to task (unconvincingly) for being “quite wrong on several counts” (his telltale childishness is never long concealed) and claiming (falsely) that he’d taken COVID-19 into full consideration (along with the fact, never mentioned by Boof, that thousands of Wisconsin voters had not even received ballots in time to mail them in by the deadline), you’d never know that two federal courts had ruled, in light of the pandemic, postal delays and the Republican state legislature’s refusal to allow modifications to the primary election schedule, that it was reasonable to allow a few extra days for mail-in ballots to arrive and be counted. In Kavanaugh’s view, the question was a narrow, strict question of law, to be applied mechanically and unemotionally (and, by total coincidence, for the perceived benefit of his political party). He was dead wrong, “quite wrong” in fact, but, you know, he had the four other Federalist Society votes to make his will the final unappealable 5-4 ruling on the matter.

“Five to four, suck it!” is not democracy. “51-49, fuck you, losers,” is not democracy. An extraordinarily bold and historically brazen insertion of a sixth vote to make the Supreme Court an unappealable six-three right-wing, (51-49 suck it, cucks), majority is, while worthy of Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Hermann Goering and friends, not democracy.

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and her immediate rushed replacement by a religious cult member true believer in the causes dearest to the hearts of the extreme right, underscores that a nine person partisan Supreme Court is no longer a viable option for preserving American democracy.

That the rights of millions of Americans may hang in the balance of who is the deciding vote, Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Amy Coney Barrett, is an anti-democratic tragedy we must not endure. There are powerful federal Courts of Appeal with many more than nine judges ruling by 5-4 majority. There’s no reason, nor any need for a Constitutional amendment, not to expand the number of Supreme Court justices to 15, or 25. Form a bipartisan commission to approve the new candidates. Have a court where the opinions of one, two or even six party-line judges does not mean the difference between a century of our fellow Americans having “no rights a white person is bound to respect” and a court whose watchword is Justice, justice shall you pursue.

You know that for the good of us all, and our hope of preserving what’s left of our beautiful natural world, justice is a much better goal than an unappealable “6-3, suck it, loser.”

[1] wow, this looked much better on my phone’s tiny screen. Blown up I can see how sloppy it is! Sorry about that.


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