“What do they teach them at these schools?” – The Famous Professor Kirke
With the election impending – and my blogging time limited by the need to actually earn a living – I decided to skip ahead in the list and deal with another of the major arguments: The question of Supreme Court appointments. This is another of those first tier arguments that should be seriously considered. Unfortunately for the Trump supporters, it also falls short – primarily because it presents a false dilemma.
This argument is usually a specific adaption of the “Because Hillary” approach. If it isn’t self-evident to a particular person why we should be so terrified of Hillary that we must vote for Trump at all costs, this is one of the prime reasons given (and a pretty potent one at that). Laid out, it generally looks something like this:
“Given the age of the justices on the Supreme Court and the death of Justice Scalia, the next president will likely appoint a new majority to the court. These will be younger justices who will serve whole decades before retiring. Given all the legislating they’ve been doing from the bench, if we lose this election, we’ll lose the court. If we lose the court, we’ve lost our freedom – particularly our religious liberty. Trump has promised to appoint conservative justices, so we must vote Trump!”
Right out of the gate, let me say this is a very serious problem and I believe that even some of the worst-case scenarios concerning it are real possibilities. It is so serious, in fact, that it should have completely disqualified a man like Trump from even being considered for the nomination of a major party. The Republicans should have nominated someone who could have been trusted to make good decisions and have the best chance of defeating Clinton. Instead, we’re now faced with the fact that Trump will likely lose and Hillary will get to make the nominations. Therefore, because of the reckless choice of Trump, not in spite of him, it is now probable that we will lose the court and with it many of our freedoms.
Even if Trump wins the election, I find this “solution” incredibly short-sighted and even betraying a callous disregard for our neighbors that borders on tyranny. I make such a bold statement simply because in electing Trump on the basis of SCOTUS we’re not only accepting a crooked, debased system of government, we’re actually looking to inflict that system of government onto other people! We will simply be using the unchecked power of SCOTUS to our own ends and then we will pretend to be shocked when the other side does the same. That smacks of dishonor. As a result, we’ll lose all moral authority to oppose them. The system itself needs to be repaired and that goes far beyond just appointing justices who are strict-ish constructionists. (That’s not a bad start, but it must not be an end in and of itself.)
What we’d need to do to fix the problem also brings us to our false dilemma. The answer to these issues is already in the Constitution, we’ve simply ignored it: checks and balances. The Founding Fathers never intended for one branch of government to wield the kind of power the Supreme Court currently does – or the president or the congress for that matter. They built a detailed system that plays the power of each group off the others in order to attain a balance. We’ve spent the subsequent 200 years dismantling that system. It’s time we put constitutional balance back into play. If we do, we’ll discover that it never has been a “Vote Trump, or Clinton wins the Court” dichotomy. Congress has the power to block Clinton’s appointments indefinitely, to impeach justices, and to limit the jurisdiction of the court – if only they can be given the backbone to make it happen. They haven’t done this yet, but that fact by itself shouldn’t bother us. We live in extraordinarily dangerous times, and if we want this nation to survive in recognizable form we must look to our leaders to take extraordinary measures. And I consider the idea of actually applying our own laws less desperate and more sure than trusting Donald Trump not to change his mind.
We should be worried about the appointments to the Supreme Court – worried enough to fix the real problem rather than exploit the system to hypocritically oppress others in the name of avoiding oppression ourselves.
Answering the arguments:
- “We allied with Stalin. Why not vote for Trump?”
- “If you can’t vote for the candidate, vote for the platform. Vote Trump!”
- “Haven’t you heard? Trump is a baby Christian now!”
- “Why is it only Bill Clinton gets away with rape? Vote Trump!”
- “Because Hillary. Vote Trump!”
- “You have an obligation to vote for the pro-life candidate. Vote Trump!”
- “Vote Trump. Because SCOTUS.”
- “But Trump is surrounding himself with good people! Vote Trump!”
- “If Hillary wins, it will all be your fault! Vote Trump!”
- “You should repent of your arrogance and vote Trump.”
- “You will answer to God if you don’t vote Trump.”
Interested in what I think we should do about it? Find out here.