Radical change in America destroying rule of law

augustusby Michiel2005

Politics – James Fallows – 5 Signs of a Radical Change in U.S. Politics – 
[Via The Atlantic]

This is distilled from a longer item earlier today, at the suggestion of my colleagues. It’s a simple game you can try at home. Pick a country and describe a sequence in which:

  • First, a presidential election is decided by five people, who don’t even try to explain their choice in normal legal terms.
  • Then the beneficiary of that decision appoints the next two members of the court, who present themselves for consideration as restrained, humble figures who care only about law rather than ideology. 
  • Once on the bench, for life, those two actively second-guess and re-do existing law, to advance the interests of the party that appointed them. 
  • Meanwhile their party’s representatives in the Senate abuse procedural rules to an extent never previously seen to block legislation — and appointments, especially to the courts. 
  • And, when a major piece of legislation gets through, the party’s majority on the Supreme Court prepares to negate it — even though the details of the plan were originally Republican proposals and even though the party’s presidential nominee endorsed these concepts only a few years ago. How would you describe a democracy where power was being shifted that way?


It might be one thing if these Court decisions were more than 5-4. It might mean something if the laws of our land were not determined by where a single Court justice would vote – usually Kennedy.

I’ve talked about the loss of respect for the Supreme Court. The Court today, by another 5-4 decision, decided to overturn 100 years of state law apparently to serve their corporate masters. So much for stare decisis, which both Roberts and Alito swore to Congress they would uphold.

As Fallows quotes:

Underscoring the point, a Bloomberg poll of 21 constitutional scholars found that 19 of them believe the individual mandate is constitutional, but only eight said they expected the Supreme Court to rule that way. 

They believe the law is correct but that the judges will overturn it anyway. They no longer believe the Supreme Court will make decisions based on the law. And they are not alone.

Only 17% of Americans believe the Supreme Court makes decisions based on the law. Over three quarters of Americans believe the Supreme Court makes decisions based on ideology.

Over 60% believe that the future of healthcare will be determined purely by ideological reasons not for legal ones. That is astounding to me.

America is ruled by laws. That is what makes us different from a monarchy or dictatorship where petty human emotions rule how the government treats its citizens. John Adams stated it best when he stated that we are “a government of laws and not of men.”

This is one of the great inventions of the Age of Enlightenment which produced our country. It protects against aristocracy and plutocracy. It is a terrible thing to lose and indicates a tremendous disconnect from the reasons for America’s founding.

And 75% of the people in the US no longer feel it applies to the highest legal court in the land. This is very worrisome.

Because power abhors a vacuum. We have a Legislative Branch that is not working properly. We have a Supreme Court that is not working properly. Thus more power accrues to the only branch where a single person can make decisions – the Executive Branch. The Imperial Presidency. Which means it is not working properly.

All three parts of our government are not working as intended. If we hope to survive, we need to get all three of them working properly again. Otherwise, we should start reading our history of Rome.