Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chief Justice Whiny-Pants

Chief Justice John Roberts is troubled that a political decision he made destined to aid the political party he supports have been criticized by the President. As far as I can tell, Roberts doesn't mind if some law professor, in class, questions some minor point of scholarship. What he objects to is having to sit there and have some senator or president criticize him to his face.

Roberts should count himself lucky. If he gets his panties in a twist over one sentence in an hour-long speech I can only imagine how soiled he would get if things get really down and dirty like they have in the past.

Supreme Court Justice Impeached for Political Decisions
Federalist Samuel Chase was appointed to the Supreme Court by President George Washington. Like Roberts and Scalia, Chase believed in a strong federal government run by an elite. He thought citizen democracy, as Roberts might say, lacked the proper decorum; Chase called it mobocracy. He believed that only men of property should be allowed to vote. Like Scalia and Roberts, Chase was highly partisan while on the Court.

In 1805 Democratic-Republicans were fed up with Chase and the House of Representatives voted articles of impeachment. Chase was acquitted in the Senate trial but kept his big mouth shut for the remainder of his life.

Andrew Jackson Ignores the Court
On a scale of 1 to 10, Andrew Jackson is off the scale when it comes to being a vicious asshole. In the 1830s Georgia wanted to drive every single Cherokee out of the state. Not because Georgians were particularly racist (although they are particularly racist) but because gold had been discovered on Indian land.

The Cherokee Nation went to court and won. The Supreme Court ruled that Georgia had no right to remove the Cherokee from their lands. Now, under the proper order of things, it is up to the Federal Government to enforce Supreme Court rulings. President Jackson told the Supreme Court to "go to hell." (Not in those exact words but everybody got the message.)

In 1838 the Cherokee were driven to Oklahoma along the Trail of Tears so Georgians could mine their gold without being pestered by those uppity injuns.

Outnumber the Bastards
You are a Democratic President trying to drag the nation out of a horrendous economic collapse and you have a Supreme Court loaded with Republican troglodytes determined to block every attempt to help the people. What do you do?

Franklin Roosevelt looked at the Constitution and looked at his big majorities in Congress and thought, "let's make the Court bigger." Simply put, the President would get to appoint one additional justice, up to six, for each of the old farts mucking up the works.

While it is true that the "court packing" plan failed it is also true that the threat had its intended effect. One justice, oddly enough named Roberts, switched sides and started voting with the Progressives. Another resigned. The end result was the Supreme Court ceased being an evil force bedeviling the nation.

Of course, if Chief Justice John Roberts hadn't slept through large parts of his legal education he would already know this history.

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