Sunday 12 July 2020

Supreme Courts must uphold equal justice for all ( Sunday Guardian)


Unless there is a kinetic conflict in the South China Sea or in the Taiwan Straits before the 3 November 2020 Presidential poll, Trump is likely to lose to Joe Biden.

Jair Bolsonaro followed George W. Bush in getting selected as the Head of State (and government) through the intervention of the higher judiciary. The US Supreme Court decided the 2000 US presidential election through a Supreme Court judgement that reeked of partisan politics. The US Supreme Court reversed the recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court, thus confirming Bush as the 43rd President of the US. Out of six million votes cast in Florida, Bush “won” with 537 over Al Gore, thanks to the denial of a recount. Despite the changes in society and in the pathways needed to conform to the requirements of “justice to all without fear or favour”, some of the Justices of the US Supreme Court are monotonously predictable in their judgements, among the most reliable in the display of political bias being Justice Clarence Thomas, who was appointed to the Court in 1991 and is likely to continue for at least a decade more. The overhang of the Clinton machine in the Democratic Party saw the domination of the Republican Party in the 2016 polls, handing over the Senate, the House of Representatives and the White House to that party, in particular its more conservative wing. Some members of this believe that US society should be rolled back to what it was a hundred years ago, certainly before the New Deal of the 1930s and the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s. Jeff Sessions, a politician who has made no secret of the regret that he has felt almost from birth at the Confederate states losing the Civil War, was appointed Attorney General by President Donald J. Trump in 2017. Immediately afterwards, Sessions began to implement US laws in a manner that flouted the foundational principle of that country, that “all men (and hopefully women as well) are created equal”. Such abominations as the forced (and often permanent) separation of parents from their children took place in the case of asylum seekers from countries other than the European countries that Sessions believes represents the entirety of human civilisation. Another pillar of the US governance system that tilted towards the Republican side was the Supreme Court, which now has a majority of justices who must be getting nightmares thinking of the modernistic verdicts of Chief Justice Earl Warren or Justice William O. Douglas, and how these can either be reversed entirely or subverted in interpretation.

The reality is that society is turning more liberal towards individual empowerment and freedom, even though a cursory readout of social media posts may not show this. In the Knowledge Economy, what counts is the freedom to seize opportunity, including pathways to knowledge. Another of Trump’s Dixiecrat choices has been Education czarina Betsy DeVos, who apparently believes that Jesus Christ was born not in Bethlehem but in either Germany or Sweden. She has sought to systematically raise the barriers to entry and utilisation of underprivileged students to the educational network in the US, while giving additional advantages to privileged institutions in addition to what their bloated bursaries already provide. The perception is growing viral in the US that when Donald Trump talks of helping the underclass, what he has in mind are mere millionaires. Any citizen with wealth below that level simply does not, in the view of the administration, qualify for assistance. As during the first Obama term, much of the money set apart as relief during a period of economic stress has gone to the wealthy, including subsidies to entities floating in cash but ever ready to accept the very handouts that they oppose if directed towards the “undeserving poor”. Unless there is a kinetic conflict in the South China Sea or in the Taiwan Straits before the 3 November 2020 Presidential poll, Trump is likely to lose to Joe Biden, despite his efforts at confusing him with his son Hunter Biden, despite the difference in looks, age and ethics. Unless Joe Biden gives evidence of remaining a loyal follower of the Clintons despite running for the US Presidency four years later than he ought to have (because of his reluctance to go against the desire of Bill and Hillary to once again occupy the White House in 2017), the Democratic Party nominee is likely to prevail over Trump. This would in large part be the consequence of the current incumbent’s efforts at rolling back the liberal measures that still survive the tidal waves of the “return to the past” moves unleashed since the 1980s.

Brazil is in crisis because the Supreme Court in that country has become a handmaiden of what may be termed the Temer policy, which posits that only white, middle-aged and wealthy men deserve special consideration in the country. Had the justice system in Brazil not ensured the unjust jailing of Lula da Silva, it would be the popular former President and not Bolsonaro who occupies the Presidential Palace in Brasilia. The Brazilian Supreme Court’s unashamed tilt to the hard right has led to a loss of confidence in the justice system on the part of the majority of Brazilians. Just as the US Supreme Court seemed to be going the way of Brazil, Chief Justice John Roberts has emerged as a supporter of some of the liberal (and societally necessary) judgements taken by the court in the past, thereby angering those who thought him a reliable servant of their social predilections. In a democracy, the Supreme Court ought to be the fount of justice “without fear or favour towards one and all”. Failing in this will result in a meltdown of social order because of the ebbing away of faith in the judicial process by the overwhelming majority of the population of a country.

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