Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saving the Supreme Court

“Just because a bunch of people on the Supreme Court say it’s constitutional doesn’t make it so.”  Rep. D. Issa, CA, on Chris Matthews show, June 28, 2012

Good lord.  I was shocked. I was appalled.  An elected official dissing the Supreme Court like that!  It’s one of the most disrespectful comments, one of the most unpatriotic and undemocratic, that I’ve heard.  We might not agree with the decision, but we live with it. The disrespect turned my stomach.  

When I was in Ukraine I gave talks about Rule of Law, the three branches of government and the concept of the common good essential to our democratic republic.  Since 1787 when America adopted the US Constitution, Rule of Law and separation of powers, timelessly explained in The Federalist Papers, have been held sacrosanct. They are the very foundation of our society.  America hasn’t always lived up to its ideals, but all Americans believe in them, cherish them.

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land, essential to the separation of powers.   To say, as Rep. Issa, did, that its rulings are “unconstitutional” is not only wrong, it’s heresy. It's the voice of ideologues and fundamentalists who really do not care about the preservation of democratic institutions.     

The Supreme Court’s august position in our society has diminished some over the years, at least since the Court’s hotly partisan ruling put George W. Bush in the White House and Al Gore out in left field.  But we accepted it.  Americans held to their belief in the three branches of government, held on to the dream and the promise of equality and justice under law.  There's is a process for making change in America, and we eventually moved on and respected the process. 

This is why I think Chief Justice John Roberts, in his decision on President Obama’s health care plan, did more than save a piece of  legislation; he saved the Court.

It put the likes of John Scalia, so blatantly an ideologue, so blatantly partisan, in his place.  No matter what we believe, no matter our party or our politics, all Americans can agree to disagree, and all Americans are invested in preserving our democratic institutions.  It's not "my way or the highway."  It's what's in the best interest of the "common good" and the preservation of our heritage.

Chief Justice Roberts reminded us of what it means to live in a democracy.  Rule of Law.  Separation of powers.  Tolerance for differences of opinions and beliefs. Simple justice.  
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