Monday, May 10, 2010

It's Time Again To Disgrace the American Legal System

This morning President Obama opened up America's newest seasonal pastime, the embarrassing farce that is the Supreme Court hearings. This year it's current US Solicitor General Elena Kagan, the eminent scholar and attorney who will of course be made out by the GOP to be some sort of illiterate Bolshevik. It seemed like only yesterday we were trying to figure out what the hell "Wise Latina" meant and why Jeff Sessions was such an insufferable prick (Is it hemorrhoids, Jeff? E.D.? Wife and the gardener? Actually, it's probably because the Senate denied his appointment as a Federal Judge for making racist statements to other government lawyers. ).

Even for the normal Republican, though, they've jumped on the woman early, probably hoping to poison the well just enough to win a little public sympathy. We've already seen Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) announce that he's absolutely not voting for her, even though the confirmation hearings are weeks away. John Kyl (R-AZ) has already voiced his concerns over her "thin" experience in the biz. No doubt she would have gained more experience as a lobbyist and lawyer for giant landowners, such as Mr. Kyl. Because nothing says complex legal analysis quite like getting payoffs from condo developers and shady land schemes.

And no less a legal mind than Michael Steele is stirring up the disgruntled fringe by ranting about Kagan's statements years ago about the Constitution being defective at its origins. Of course he and the cronies will probably overlook the fact that she was discussing the fact that under the original Constitution African-Americans only counted as 3/5 of a human and remained property under the Constitution for about the first 80 years, but that's understandable. It's Original Constructionism baby! (That being said, if we could fine a way to take away suffrage from a few people I don't think I'd mind. That means you, Susan Collins.)

Perhaps the greatest irony of the process this time around is the fact that she's already come out and dismissed what the process has become as a "vapid and hollow charade," an observation even more spot-on than when she said it 15 years ago. What could be an enlightening and useful discussion about the role of the court and legal theory has unfortunately become nothing more than a sad joke. We're hearing and seeing supposedly incriminating pictures of her--wait for it--wearing a judicial style robe in the 8th grade! And talking about wanting to be a Supreme Court Justice! Sweet Jesus NO! If there's anything we can't have floating around the youth of America, it's aspiration. We need to stomp that shit out ASAP and get those kids back into Mickey Dees.

When it comes down to it, there really aren't many people who should be remotely challenged. We have to keep in mind that the hearings process isn't an election-style process where you get to pick your favorite. It's just an process to decide whether or not the appointment is qualified, not whether you'll like the way they would rule on your legislation. Senators have a vote on whether the person is qualified, not whether they like the viewpoints. There is an enormous difference, yet we're going to hear endless jabbering about why Congressmen can't vote for her on account of their differing views.

On a nauseating but serious note, this actually has a chance to get really ugly in the streets amongst the lowest of the Right's hate machine. The woman's 50, still single, and--gasp!--has a short haircut. You can see where this is going. It's not going to take much to push a few of the Tea Party loons and Bible thumpers into the streets rallying behind the argument that she (a) is gay; (b) is going to throw her gayness all over my America; and (c) doesn't like Jesus. Of course, the GOP, Fox News and talk radio will do nothing but froth up the venom or justify it in some deranged way, all the while claiming to be nothing more than passive bystanders to public sentiment. Keep in mind that at no point has she ever indicated that she was gay, and even if she was, it has zero relevance to the abilities of a qualified jurist. But, of course, you're dealing with the proto-humans who still eat that vile garbage up. I'm not saying it absolutely will happen this way, but I'll put it at 75%. When it does, let's hope the backlash is fast and carries some serious weight.

Looking forward, there's the way this should play out and the way that it actually will. It should be a open and shut matter, and she should be stamped on through without a hassle. And yet it won't. It's going to be a drawn out harassment of an enormously qualified woman who happens to be on the wrong side of some political hacks drumming up campaign dollars. We're hearing some talk of a filibuster, and while I wouldn't expect it, it could happen if only to bog down the Obama administration's attempts to actually conduct government business. In the end, we have only the public to blame for allowing it to happen. We've allowed it to trend this way for years and it's going to keep happening as long as people keep voting in these clowns to pull this crap or letting them do it when they're in office. Even if it involves a complete restructuring of the way Justices are confirmed, there needs to be some form of change. If and when it does, the process can transcend the useless and cynical character assassination it has become and reaffirm itself as a unifying and critically important part of the American judicial system.

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