Saturday 11 December 2021

US Supreme Court pines for a bygone America (The Sunday Guardian)

 Had Barack Obama been a bit more confident of himself rather than seek to remain on the periphery rather than atop the centre court of activity, he may have persuaded Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the US Supreme Court to retire so that the vacancy could be filled when the President of the US still had the legislative strength needed to do so. That vacancy was filled by Amy Coney Barrett, whose brilliance is matched only by her tilt towards the social constructs favoured by the Trump wing of the Republican Party. Chief Justice John Roberts is a Republican at heart, although a lot more conscious of the emerging cleavages in US society than Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. Neither the legal horsepower of the appointees nor their bias towards the New Right (and its philosophy of Winner Takes All) can be doubted. Because of the much greater transparency in proceedings of the US Supreme Court than is the case in several other countries, the public can get a glimpse into the dynamics at work in an institution that seems poised to roil US society to the glee of the Sino-Wahhabi alliance and the Russians, who since their exclusion from the G-7 have been given no option by the Atlanticist powers than to cosy up to the PRC. Had President Biden a bit more spine than his boss over two Presidential terms, Barack Obama, he may not have summarily set aside the advice to expand the Supreme Court to fifteen from its present nine. Going by the trajectory of the Roberts court in the matter of social justice and workers’ rights, the next domino to fall will be the right to terminate pregnancies safely of women resident in the US. That something as basic as this to gender equality is still a political and legal football in the US indicates how little segments of that society have evolved during the last four centuries of existence of the land that remains the world’s most influential country, although under severe challenge from a country across the shores of the Indo-Pacific, the People’s Republic of China. Whether it be Justice Barrett or Justice Kavanaugh, or indeed others on the bench, they wear their religious beliefs on their sleeves. Pope Francis may have softened the stand of the Vatican on many issues. His many years of work among Argentina’s poor have conscientised the Holy Father to the needs of society better than those cloistered in relative comfort from birth (and now guaranteed such a privilege for life, courtesy their entry into the US Supreme Court and its lifelong tenure). It is clear that many of the justices believe not in reincarnation as those in some other faiths do, but together with adherents of another Abrahamic faith believe in Hell and Heaven. If the path to heaven means trampling over the reproductive rights of women, that is a small price to pay for avoiding eternal hellfire. Texas in particular has gone to great lengths to ensure that the underprivileged women there have to get abortions in unsafe and risky circumstances rather than in safety. Prohibition in the US did not stop the drinking of alcohol, nor will the removal of the right to a safe termination of pregnancy before the foetus becomes viable result in a stoppage of such actions. Of course, those from circumstances of relative privilege, such as the carefully vetted Republican picks for the Supreme Court, cannot be expected to be aware of such a fate once they decide to choke Roe vs Wade entirely, after successive federal courts have begun the process of strangling to extinction the path-breaking judgments of the Warren Court. Rather than build on the rights established under Chief Justice Earl Warren, Chief Justice Roberts and his Republican majority in the Supreme Court are intent on whittling them down.

Joe Biden is a survivor, and by now may have understood that the clubby mutual backscratching that is so prevalent in the US Senate has no place in the present politics of the jungle that is being practised in the US. It speaks for the essential decency of Joe Biden and Jill Biden that they believed in converting Republican friends such as Mitch McConnell to a less unbalanced view than that of others in the Party of Trump. By now, that illusion may have evaporated. Unless President Biden uses the legislative legerdemain available to him to ensure passage of his Social & Economic Justice Bill through the US Congress, he is going to suffer the loss of legislation essential to stability in the US. Should the Democrats in Name Only (DINOs) such as Manchin and possibly Sinema succeed in helping the Republicans get the initiative on Voting Rights and Social & Economic Justice, President Biden and the non-DINO component of his party need to go before US voters and say that the only way forward would be for the party to defeat the Republicans handily in the 2022 midterms. The hesitancy and perceived pusillanimity of the President of the US is emboldening external enemies of the US into ramping up activities designed to cripple the US governance system, a work in progress that seems to be making good progress. What could come to the assistance of the Democratic Party is the US Supreme Court, which is now functioning as a wing of the ideological fringe of the Republican Party. That is, if Biden shows sufficient resolve to get behind rather than obstruct the move to raise the strength of the Supreme Court to 15, and to ask for a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate to ensure that this be done, especially if the Biden bills on voting rights and equal justice fail to get through the US Congress before the midterms. While they may have been misled by the extravagant promises of Donald Trump in 2016, underprivileged voters of all hues are likely to keep in mind the fact that only billionaires had it good during the years when Trump was in the White House. Societal change is taking place on a significant scale in the US, and it must be said that a majority (or close to a majority) of those of European descent are standing together with those having a deeper tan in battling for rights that were ignored by the Clinton Democrats and their closet fealty to Wall Street. At least Manchin is honest about his fealty to specific interests. In the case of the Clintons and the Clintonites, words uttered were the reverse of the effect of the policies brought in, including during the Clintonite filled Obama administration in its first term. In 2024 it may be a Trumpian or the superman himself that stands. It would be interesting to see what would happen were there to be a Harris-Buttigieg ticket. A “black” and a “gay”. The US accepted a black man as President in 2008. They could well ensure the victory of Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg in 2024


US Supreme Court pines for a bygone America

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