Letter 2 America for April 16, 2021

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Dear America,

We've been hearing this self-serving casuistry about bi-partisanship from the Republicans for two decades, but it never seems to materialize in the form of Republican policy, proposals or even counter-proposals.  Now, we have an activist president--and frankly, I am pleasantly surprised by President Biden's initiative and fortitude--and he has proposed dramatic programs to redress the deficiencies left behind by not just the Trumpster, but by Biden's presidential patron, President Obama, as well.  Obama was a nice president, but his diffidence wasn't a favor he did the nation.  Now Biden seems to be taking the Farragut  approach (you know...damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!) and opting to do things instead of just gently nudging the opposition to cooperate in doing so until it's too late and nothing happens in the end.  And now, there seems to be enough public sentiment in favor of the proposal for a few trillion dollars worth of "infrastructure" repair that the Republicans will either have to come up with a rational approach to funding it all other than taxing under-taxed corporations at a higher rate and making the rich pay their fair share or the votes of the rich and corporate executives will be the only ones they get in 2022.  But it may be that the most momentous initiative Biden has proposed involves something more long-term in effect than fixing highways and bridges.

Our president is creating a commission to investigate the prudence and feasibility of term limits, mandatory retirement of justices, and of expanding the Supreme Court to probably thirteen justices, and it appears to me that all of those things are irrefutably good ideas.  That isn't just because the Republicans used hypocrisy and outright dishonesty to pack the court with conservatives, though that alone would justify increasing the size of the Supreme Court bench in my opinion.  And it isn't because the late Justice Ginsberg, knowing that she was likely to die before President Obama's successor assumed office refused to retire even after Obama exhorted her privately to do so in an attempt to obviate suffering someone like Trump putting three justices on the court and throwing it out of moral balance for a generation or more.  It is because no matter which party is in control of The Senate, political inclinations play a role in filling vacancies on the court, and expanding the court mitigates the possibility that the court will become an oscillating forum for the whip lashing of our national ethos that happens now.  We get decisions like Citizen's United that allow the rich to at least make credible attempts to buy our national destiny and for eminent domain in favor of private developers as in Kelo v. New London, Connecticut, which allowed the town to seize private property so that a mall could be built by a private developer on the waterfront.  And of course, there is all the damage done by the court to "Obamacare," which Trump opposed probably only because it would never be known as "Trumpcare." In other words, a thirteen person court would help to prevent a would-be-autocratic demagogue from creating an America in his own image.

Of course, the Republicans having now had their way with our judicial system in a fashion that will afflict us all for decades are calling the proposal to expand the court the very thing they themselves have inflicted on us over the past four years, literally by hook and by crook thanks to Mitch McConnell.  But this proposal is actually the opposite of "court packing" for the purpose of proliferating political positions in the form of judicially manifested social policy.  It is an attempt to prevent such from occurring in the future, and maybe 15 justices would be more effective in doing so, though it would seem too unwieldy to be workable.  In any event, if one president appointed three justices out of 13, the effect would be far less precipitous a change than three out of nine has been.  And since the Republicans profess to be implementing the will of our founding fathers when they do the dubious things they do, thus blaming progenitors for what is actually the perfidy they are committing, they should read the Federalist Papers, especially numbers 62 through 68.  Hamilton wrote most of what they contain, and a continuing theme in them is the threat to our national stability and our democracy that populists like Donald Trump represent, and sure enough, that is what eventuated despite their ill-conceived attempts to prevent it.  And that's the irony of that sentiment; the very electoral college and senate they created intending to keep the nation a bastion of sanity allowed the country to become the seat of the Mad Hatter's tea party that was the Trump era.  This expansion of the court that Biden is proposing is an attempt to undo some of the kind of misguided attempts to keep irrationality out of our governing institutions that Hamilton and his co-founders bungled into.

So we have an opportunity with our sane president in office to fortify the Supreme Court, optimally a bastion against tyranny, amorality and demagoguery, and at least mitigate against the reiteration in future administrations of what Donald Trump has wreaked upon us.  The only question is, will Biden's efforts succeed, and if so, will they do so in time.

Your friend,


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This page contains a single entry by Michael Wolf published on April 16, 2021 1:28 PM.

Letter 2 America for April 11, 2021 was the previous entry in this blog.

Letter 2 America for April 29, 2021 is the next entry in this blog.

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