Monday, February 15, 2016

Don't freak out about these Political Machinations

(Coming to terms with American civics)

Things to know about what's going on regarding the Supreme Court:
  1. Republicans and Democrats are the two major political parties in the United States.
    1. The United States is largely a two party system, thus making these two parties pretty powerful.
    2. While Republicans and Democrats actually agree on most things that are controversial in other countries (a Constitutional Republic form of government, free ownership of property, a basic set of individual rights, a citizen military, income tax as primary revenue, free trade with allies, a non-command economy, etc.), most Americans see Republicans and Democrats as opposite.
    3. While the majority of Americans do not see themselves as Republicans or Democrats, those who do seem to feel strongly that the other side is quite wrong.
  2. The Constitution of the United States posits three branches of government. Ideally:
    1. The Legislators makes laws
    2. The President executes those laws and runs the bureaucracy that executes those laws.
    3. The Courts make sure the Legislators and the President are acting within the limits of the Constitution.
  3. The Constitution of the United States gives the right to the President of the United States to appoint Justices to the Supreme Court (and other federal courts too).
    1. A Supreme Court Justice has his or her position until deciding to retire, or dying, whichever comes first.
  4. A Supreme Court justice, Antonin Scalia, recently died.
    1. Antonin Scalia was appointed by Ronald Reagan, a Republican.
    2. Antonin Scalia has almost always voted the way that the Republican party would want him to on the Supreme Court.
    3. The current President of the United States, Barack Obama, is a Democrat.
  5. The Constitution of the United States gives the Legislature power to "advise and consent" to these appointments. 
    1. If they do not consent, there is no appointment.
    2. The majority in both houses of the Legislature are Republicans. 
    3. The Legislature can deny consent, but even if they don't want to go that far, they can take as long as they want to deliberate. 
  6. There is a Presidential election in nine months. 
    1. The Republican Party thinks that they might win that election.
    2. They all know that they also might not.
    3. If the Republicans can hold off the new Justice, and the next President is a Republican, they might be able to get a justice who will agree with them on most issues.
    4. On the other hand, if they do this, they might be seen as "obstructionist" by the people who are not Republicans or Democrats and might lose the election because of that.
    5. If the Republicans lose the election, they will have gone to a great deal of work for nothing.
  7. In the end, you'll hear a lot of people talk about precedent, Constitutional powers, intent, and other things, but the truth is that both parties just want to put their person on the courts, plain and simple, and all this other stuff is just justification
The fact of the matter is that it is all just politics and positioning. The Republicans and Democrats would be doing the exact same thing that the others are doing if the situation were reversed. Maybe politics itself is distasteful. Maybe we wish that Justices were chosen by merits or elections instead of appointments. That's not the way it works though. So, I have a feeling emotions are going to run really high about this whole thing and people are going to get real upset with each other. 

All of this is just the way things work and at most it will be nine-months before it all shakes out. It'll be okay. 

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