Supreme Court

The idea that a job position is yours for life should only ever apply to parenthood short of “impeachment”.

The current state of affairs in the US, as to packing the suprieme court in retaliation for stacking the bench with people who may or may not be qualified, could be easily solved if the initial appointments were based on a period of probation to be determined by the subsequent adminstration (i.e. 2 to 4 years). After this time the Senate could then re-review the qualifications of the candidate based on the judgements passed and determine whether or not the justice is in fact, impartial and free from bias.

In essence, if someone is really qualified to take on a position for life in the service of their country, at least two separate administrations would be required to confirm the candidate.

What this would mean is that, while one administration could put forward, and confirm, candidates that may be ‘qualified’ but whom may be biased, the subsequent administration could then retify the situation by calling into question specific decisions and opinions that were made in the actual course of performing the role.

This would essentially eliminate the capability of a potential justice to avoid legitimate questions due to a matter not being in front of the court. The questions for final confirmation can then be specifically targeted at those judgements for which the justice has already rendered a verdict. 

This would also provide oversight in two different ways. 

The first would be to, hopefully, have differing administrations agree as to the presumtion of bias. If a justice is truly being impartial, then changes in administration shouldn’t have any issues in confirming someone that is doing the job in service of the country.

The second would be to allow the peoples of the US to indirectly determine whether an administration, running for a second term, deserves the right to confirm a justice they put forward to the bench.

There is no other job anywhere on this planet where the answer “I can’t tell you but you can trust me to make the right choice” is a legitimate answer to the question “how would you handle this situation” in a job interview.

The essence of good democratic governance needs to be one where the interests of society are put above the interests of any specific ideology. That doesn’t mean that ideology shouldn’t play a role. But it also shouldn’t be allowed to serve as the basis for establishing dictatoral practices for life that only serve to fracture society and sub-dividing communities rather than having those communities rally for the common good.

Nothing is ever truly fair. The idea is to create a today, that is more fair than yesterday, and that will lead to a fairer tomorrow.

Politicians need to be able to create the rules through policy building. That is their job. They shouldn’t be allowed to create the rules and disproportionally profit by them. A policy is only fair in that it benefits all of society once your opposition is in power.

Unfortunately, we have seen far too many instances where a policy is considered clandestine to society when it is proposed by the party in power, only to be considered beneficial once the opposition takes over. Or where agruments against a policy is shot down in one adminstration only to be taken up as beneficial in a second one simply because it suits their agenda at the time.

The guiding principle should be: if I develop this policy, will it still serve the needs of our society and our agenda once the opposition spins it based on their ideology and their agenda. 

If the answer is either ‘no’ or ‘I don’t care because I’m only interested in the problem in front of my face at this exact moment’, then it is bad policy and shouldn’t be allowed to proceed.

That is the difference between a good politician and a bad one. Governmental policy is the fine art of putting out the fire in front of you while seeking to avoid all fires of the same type in the future. It is not about putting out the fire in front of you and letting the rest of it burn simply because it isn’t in your immediate backyard.

The problem comes down to one of  ethics. Or rather accountability around ethics. There are currently no policies in place that hold politicians accountable for these types of breaches of ethics wherein the policies are selectively applied based solely on whether those measures can be forced through.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not disputing the Senate’s direction on confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. I’m disputing the confirmation process for Merrick Garland, which is where the ethics violation occured. If the rules were made fair, then ACB’s confirmation shouldn’t be proceeding. Having said that, ACB’s confirmation is in line with the constitution whereas the Senate’s refusal to even provide a hearing for Merrick Garland can now be considered both a breach of ethics and trust.

Does this concept mean that there could be a large number of rotating Justices on the Supreme Court as the Senate tries to agree to candidates that should be appointed indefinitely. Absolutely.

Does this concept mean that some cases before the Supreme Court may be disrupted as people are replaced mid-session for certain cases. Absolutely.

Does the concept mean that the current administration could interrupt critical case decisions the Government has a vested interest in. Not if you set the rules such that the existing Justices be allowed to complete their existing case load before being asked to step down in order to foster the continuity of the judicial process. Again, this comes back to the idea that you should be able to either make the rules or profit by them but not both.

If you want the opportunity to remove bias from these types of positions, put those Justices on probation and review their work performance like everyone else.

— Kevin Feenan

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