Events of our times now indicate that the United States is entering the most hazardous period in our long history. Far more hazardous to us all, in fact, than the effects of any war we’ve ever experienced. Yet strangely enough, the forces which now endanger us reflect a warning which was first sounded by one of the most prominent patriots among the founders of our Republic, Thomas Jefferson, (in paraphrase) “If this nation is ever to be seriously threatened, look for that threat to come from within.”
Among the three independent branches of our governing system, the one upon which the architecture of this Republic has been most essentially dependent, throughout our history, for its strength and security, has been the one which was fashioned to protect “the rule of law” – the Judiciary. From our founding, this branch of our government was structured to be administered specifically by “Jurists”, who would perform their duties from a position that would be beyond the influence of politics – and even beyond the transitory nature of popular opinion. It was for this reason that these administrators, definers and protectors of our laws would serve in life-time appointments. By that means, it was believed, their performance in office would be governed exclusively by the demanding intricacies of their profession, and beyond any corrupting influence. In short, the administrators of our Judicial system would be guided exclusively by the law – and never by politics or even the transitory nature of popular opinion – particularly since “law” is not a matter of opinion, but of principles which have been evolving over a span of thousands of years.
For nearly two centuries this judicial plan proved generally successful – that is, until the corrupting influence of politics had found a way to work its will. Beginning more than half a century ago, a major political party came to realize that their obligations to their benefactors stood so flagrantly in opposition to the interests of the general public, that their on-going success could only be sustained by more surreptitious means than through popular elections. A more devious – a more subtle approach – would be needed in order to gain and hold power. That approach, carried out over a span of decades, would consist of Stuffing this nation’s Supreme Court with “ideologues”, instead of “Jurists” – with men who’d be far more motivated to a “political agenda” than to any principle of law.
For example, one clear evidence of this reality was demonstrated when an action in law was brought against President George W. Bush, with regard to the law, known as the Military Commissions Act of 2006. This law had been drawn by a Republican controlled Congress to (among other things) suspend the Constitutional protection of Habeas Corpus with regard to prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay – captives taken during the Iraq war, and then being held, in many cases, without charge.
There are several notable facts relating to this case. The first is that when the issue finally reached the Supreme Court – as expected – the Court found against Bush, and his Republican Congress. One reason for this judgement was couched in the fact that the Constitutional protection of Habeas Corpus is not found in our Bill of Rights – a document which itself didn’t come into existence until years after the ratification of our Constitution – but rather had been incorporated into the body of the Constitution itself. In fact, it’s possible that the reason for this right to have been enshrined directly into the Constitution, was that Habeas Corpus had been a cornerstone of western civil law since it first appeared in Magna Carta, in the year 1215.
Yet the most compelling fact in that proceeding, with regard to this Blog, was that the Court’s decision had been five to four. Every “Jurist” on that court found it impossible to suspend Habeas Corpus, perhaps because it applied to prisoners who, in some cases, had never even been charged with a crime. But with regard to this Blog, the most significant fact in that case, was that all four of the Justices who’d found against Habeas Corpus, had been appointed by Republican Presidents. Jurists? Or ideologues?
Now, as of this writing a very real threat to this Republic actually exists. Very soon, the political party who had in the past appointed ideologues to the Supreme Court, ideologues who’d happily have suspended Habeas Corpus, will be appointing a fifth – and dominating – member to our Supreme Court.
Years ago, the leaders of that party, who will now have total control over our Supreme Court, had voiced a complaint that they called “Legislating from the Bench”. With five “ideological” Justices on that Court, they will now be in a position to do just that. But with their taste power, they will then do so – with a vengeance!
They will no longer be concerned if their political opposition holds both houses of Congress, or even the Presidency with them, in the face of a simple fact. Any act of Congress, by the opposition party, and then signed by their opponent President can instantly be taken to court, and argued up the Supreme Court – a Court then under the total domination of the Republicans. Popular opinion will mean no more to them then, than it does now. Law itself will mean nothing – since they will be the law! You might imagine for yourself, what they’ll find to do with that new found – and absolute – power. What sort of country will we have then? Repeal of Rowe vs. Wade? Decisions against gay marriage, Will there be oil drilling in the National Parks? What of questions about contraception, equal rights – you name it, they’ll do it. This will become a very different country, indeed.