The Court has succumbed to the fatal flaws of its construct. Justices who are appointed for life and function without practical oversight are a legal and social time-bomb. The founders assumed that those who would be appointed to and serve on the court would be of the highest character and not given to petty political ambitions. Those are noble aspirations but without checks, balances and safeguards it was just a matter of time before the allure of supreme power would prove too great.
To be sure it was not just these justices who themselves decided to take social and political matters into their own hands. Their rise to power was the result decades long concerted and coordinated effort by conservative activists to place on the court in sufficient numbers the conservative activist justices needed to effect what amounts to a constitutional coup. They saw and they understood that the court was an institution that could be commandeered for a political and social agendas and they spared nothing in pursuit of achieving that goal.
What those who engineered the commandeering of the court did not understand is that while their oft-stated ends now seem achievable they have exposed deep flaws in the institution over which they now hold sway and use as their instrument. It is a Court that can be commandeered, one that cannot be questioned and does not ever face the voters. It is tailor-made to be the centerpiece for minority rule in the United States. They have proven both and at once that the Court could be commandeered and that it must be reformed.
The Court is not is not just dead for the moment or until it has good justices but dead in a more permanent and lasting sense. Oversight and accountability are essential and indispensable cornerstones of a democratic-Republic. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land, the final arbiter of constitutional justice. The notion that it should function free of those essential constraints was a whirlwind waiting to be reaped. We now reap it.
If the nation must have a Supreme Court its supremacy must not be unassailable or omnipotent. It has to be a living breathing part of the greater body of governmental organs. Legal scholars have long warned that lifetime appointments were inconsistent with high standards and accountability. Shorter terms would ensure a more responsive and higher functioning Court and one in which the American people would have far greater confidence.
Supreme Court Justices don’t need to be deity like figures, it isn’t helpful or realistic. What the country needs are good judges that serve for a time and then make way for successors. It’s much better for continuity, public confidence and the health of the Judiciary Branch.
Some ideas might include, Expanding the court, that much power in the hands of so few is too risky. End lifetime appointments, they looked dangerous and unnecessary from the beginning and now we know why. Rotate federal judges on to the Supreme Court and then back to federal judgeships when their terms conclude. It better integrates the Court with the federal judicial system it guides.
The total lack of political will in Washington is shocking. Permanent power is bad for institutions. If we are to be a nation of laws we cannot be a nation whose affairs are dominated by powerful individuals. We need a new generation of leaders who will challenge policies that subvert the very institutions they are intended to uphold.
As Americans we must join hands together and challenge the legitimacy of this rogue court. The corruption of the Supreme Court ultimately means the downfall of the rule of law in America. This is a crisis for all Americans and all American institutions.
This Court is dead forever. A new Court must rise.
Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, and is now founder and Editor of Reader Supported News. On Twitter: @MarcAshRSN