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CURMUDGEONRY
The Awful, Godless, Republican Supreme Court
Who Appointed Whom?

by Barnabas
January 28, 2004

The Awful, Godless, Republican Supreme Court_Barnabas-Who Appointed Whom
I, [NAME], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as [TITLE] under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.''
- Oath of Office for Members of the Supreme Court of the United States.

“Oyez, oyez, oyez, the honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States is now in session. All persons having business before the honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States are admonished to draw near, for the Court is now sitting. God save the United States and this honorable Court.
- The Call to Order of the Supreme Court
It’s a cheap shot, and hardly original, to wonder aloud why God should save the honorable Court, when from all accounts the Court doesn’t want anybody else on public property to be saved.

I got an email forward today that asked the rhetorical question, “How then, have we gotten to the point that everything we have done for 200 years in this country is now suddenly wrong and unconstitutional?” He was referring to religious symbolism and speech in the public square. The questioner then urged me to pass his question on; otherwise, “nothing happens.”

I sympathize with the question; I think the Supreme Court is confused in its dealing with religious issues. But I don’t know what the questioner wants to happen. I know that several people who agree with him vote Republican, but I don’t see how that would help on this particular issue. For fifty years the Court has been dominated by Republican appointments. Of twenty-one selections, Republican Presidents made fifteen and Democrats made six. Currently, seven of the sitting justices are Republican appointments and two are Democratic. Since 1953, Republicans have appointed all of the Chief Justices.

This doesn’t mean that Democratic appointments would have pleased those of us concerned about religious freedom; it only suggests that if Republican appointments were going to make this specific difference on the Court, they have had plenty of time to do it. Instead, simple arithmetic indicates that several of them must have voted against us on some issues that are dear to us, and agreed with us sometimes. So the hope of reforming the Court by political appointments is a forlorn one – in political terms they have a seven to two majority now. Opinions do not come out seven-to-two all of the time because judicial majorities are not always (and should be never), thank God, determined by politics.

Maybe, just maybe, those Republican Presidents – and Democrats too - actually appointed some people who turned out to be real judges, men and women who weren’t the parrots or puppets of either the right or the left. They would do what they swore to do, whether we thought them wrong or right: to “administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and... faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me... under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.”

God got in there again!

About the Author:
Barnabas is a critic, not a cynic. He believes that people often want to be what they are supposed to be.


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