Sunday, May 25, 2014


Norm Ornstein has written a dumb article in The Atlantic.  It's one of those partisan pieces masquerading as an objective argument--we need term limits for the Supreme Court because for some reason that will cut down on its polarization, when it seems more likely all Ornstein cares about is kicking off the conservatives who have been enjoying a (paper thin) majority for a while.  (Ornstein is one of those people who claims to fight for non-partisanship by getting everyone to join the side he supports.) But we expect this sort of argument whenever people write about the Supreme Court--they say they're fighting for a principle, and it's just a coincidence this alleged principle will mean the Court decides cases the way they want.  Here's the despicable part:

[...] I thought about what would have happened if the current Supreme Court were transported back to decide Brown. Two years of deliberation? No way. Unanimous or even near-unanimous decision? Forget it. The decision would have been 5-4 the other way, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing for the majority, "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race"—leaving separate but equal as the standard. The idea that finding unanimity or near-unanimity was important for the fabric of the society would never have come up.

Let's leave aside that it takes two to tango--if the liberals on the court would work with the conservatives, maybe we could get more unanimous decisions.  Ones that would probably make Ornstein editorialize against the pall of conformity.  The Court simply isn't built that way at present, unlike the days of yore.  And I see no reason why term limits would address Ornstein's problem (which isn't even a real problem, which is just as well, since I doubt Ornstein really cares about it), while I can see how it would make things worse in other ways.  Though I guess it would be a fun political spectacle to watch some Justices trying to put off a case so that it's beyond the retirement of a Justice they disagree with, and then as soon as they get a majority, start overturning everything in sight.

No, let's look at Ornstein's hate.  Saying today's judicial conservatives would oppose Brown is beyond a cheap shot.  It would be just as easy to claim that Robert's opponents, who think that people should be treated differently based on their race, would have trouble with the entire civil rights movement of the post-WWII era.  But where does that get you?

Mr. Ornstein, how can you claim you want more deliberation and less polarization when you resort to such slimy name-calling?

PS  I wrote this post a couple days ago.  Since then, Ilya Somin has taken on Ornstein, making most of the same points, only more calmly and rationally. 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

whats an Ilya Somin?

5:15 AM, May 25, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's some sort of mix of French and Russian.

11:35 AM, May 25, 2014  

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