my pissant two cents

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

file under "f" for "f, what the"

i have a recurring nightmare, one that snaps me awake in the dead of night, teeth clenched in mortal terror, hands gripping the linens like a young chimp clings to its mother. it involves nine tiny but acrid words. they sting like the venom of a spitting cobra, and they have longer enduring harm. those words: "chief justice scalia delivered the opinion of the court."

i have talked myself blue in the face over scalia. he is a dangerous man. he is a reactionary of the worst sort. he is a sophist who parses, dissects and batters language until it fits his feverish vision of america. that vision, i strongly suspect, includes the good old days when burning witches and heretics and denying two-fifths of the humanity of african-americans were de riguer. worst of all, for now, is the fact of his lifetime tenure. i say "for now" because that could change, for the worse and sooner than later, and the guy who's supposed keep tabs on these things says that's a-okay.

senator harry reid, (d-nv), the new minority leader, says that he is fine with scalia as chief justice. because he's a smart guy. well, ok. i'm a smart guy. but i shouldn't be chief justice, although i strongly suspect that i could do at least as well as scalia, with a lot less atavistic judicial activism.

scalia is the golden child of the federalist society. you may have heard of them. they claim to be good, old-fashioned conservatives who want to take the courts out of the lawmaking business and give the states authority to create and interpret their laws. what they really are is ravening wolves in sheep's clothing. they are free-market zealots, pushing for legalistic justifications for the neo-con domestic agenda: deregulation, deregulation and deregulation. oh, and repeal of the new deal. oh, and tax breaks for the extremely rich. and ban anything that benefits minorities. and create laws that make all of these things happen.

scalia has toed that line very well. just try to find a decision where scalia supports a decision against a corporation. try to find a case where scalia supports minority rights.

(this last one is kind of a trick question. in r.a.v. v. st. paul, scalia voted against a municipal code that banned hate speech on the basis of race, creed, color, religion or gender. his rationale was that the law did not define enough categories as hate speech. not because he opposes limiting the free range of debate, but because he's in favor of racial slurs. it's a typical scalia technique: take the result you want and work backwards to rationalize it.)

sen. reid made his announcement sunday, on "meet the press." he was asked about the supreme court, four members of which are more than 70 years old and at least three of whom are known to have suffered bouts of cancer. most recently was chief justice rehnquist, who underwent treatment for thyroid cancer just after the election. (i don't think that's a coincidence. the thought of president fredo appointing a replacement may have been enough to drive some moderates to kerry's column.)

reid spoke, however, of scalia's "ethics issues," primarily based on scalia's refusal to recuse himself from a case involving his old hunting buddy, vice president cheney. reid failed to mention scalia's refusal to recuse himself from bush v. gore, despite the fact that two of his sons were working in one fashion or another for the bush campaign.

interestingly enough, sen. reid also mentioned justice thomas, but in far less flattering terms than he offered on scalia. reid called thomas, widely regarded as a lightweight with no business on the high bench, "an embarrassment to the supreme court."

i have no love for thomas, and generally consider him a cheap knock-off of scalia, unencumbered by intellectual gravity. that's not even getting into his pornography fetish and proclivity for sexual harassment. not that i'm opposed to pornography-- just hypocrisy. but for reid-- a democrat, for crying out loud-- complimenting scalia while excoriating thomas is a bit like a bleeding swimmer cozying up to a great white and bad-mouthing a hammerhead.

i've got to hand it to sen. reid, though. while leftists are foaming at the mouth over his praise for scalia, rightwingers are foaming at the mouth for his slamming thomas. it takes something quite special to genuinely piss off the right and the left in one fell swoop.

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