Saturday, March 19, 2016

Lithwick: Supreme Court Nihilism

I say this is worth a read.
   Some important 'graphs:
That doesn’t mean that it’s perfectly clear what ideologies and political preferences he might bring to the court. Over the course of his tenure on the second most influential court in the land, Garland was against Guantánamo detainees until he was for them. Tom Goldstein at SCOTUSblog reports that when Garland was asked to rule in civil rights cases, he generally sided with plaintiffs alleging rights violations. Goldstein also notes that Garland is a worry for progressives because he has overwhelmingly sided against criminal defendants. Based on his myriad opinions, it’s fair to say that he has ruled in favor of environmental regulations and that he is incremental, cautious, and wary of outspoken dissents. As the Wall Street Journal suggests, he brings folks to a middle place, which is weird and disorienting in a world without middle places.

Nobody who has followed Garland’s career will be surprised that his almost two-decade record reveals someone who is disinclined to get out in front of the law but tries hard to narrowly construe it. This is not a fount of quotable sound bites; it’s a guy who gets up every morning and does a little law.

Crucially, nobody who has been listening to Obama talk about his ideal jurist for the past eight years will be surprised to learn that caution, judicial restraint, and the ability to compromise are among Garland’s most prominent personal qualities. Those of us who are for less caution and more sharp elbows may have chosen, time and time again, to believe that Obama has been lying all these years about his distaste for liberal Scalias. But he wasn’t! And as someone who recently begged for a Justice Elizabeth Warren, I concede that Garland is precisely the kind of judge Obama most values—a “reasonable” one. That an organization like Fox News would criticize the president’s “reasonable” choice as a pretextual effort to look “reasonable” fo rpolitical gain is about the best distillation of everything that is deranged about our current politics. Obama breaks liberal hearts by being moderate, then is accused of faux-moderation by the right.
(Minor point: why is it that people insist on putting terms like 'reasonable' in scare quotes?)
   Anyway: look, dammit, Republicans: This appointment sounds like the best we can hope for from either side. Don't block it. Stop being idiots. Unless the U.S. goes crazy, Hillary is going to be the next president. You think you're going to get a better option then, do you?
   The GOP's ODS is just off the scale. Obama has tried to seek middle ground for the vast majority of his term in office (same-sex marriage perhaps notwithstanding), and the deranged GOP simply refuses to take compromise for an answer. I fear a "progressive" party unbridled by a conservative party...but when your conservative party goes insane, unbridled "progressivism" may be the only sane option.
(h/t S. rex)


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