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US Supreme Court reminds us that elections have consequences

May 4th, 2022 at 12:01am

In recent hours something happened which has never happened before. A draft decision of the United States Supreme Court was leaked. The decision is purportedly written by Justice Samuel Alito and appears to be a majority decision overturning Roe v Wade, effectively returning decision making authority about abortion laws to the states and making it likely that some states will ban abortion, others will permit it quite openly, and others will find a middle ground.

The decision itself is monumental but I’ll come to that in a moment.

Equally importantly, the leaking of a draft Supreme Court decision is reprehensible and does great harm to the institution. Draft decisions are generally written on both the majority and minority side of any case. They are subject to change as the justices deliberate. It’s even possible that arguments in the draft decisions may lead a justice to change sides and thus change the outcome of a decision. The process happens in private after all of the arguments of the battling parties have been heard in court sessions. It’s a process which happens in private so that the justices can deliberate and discuss the matter without external influences and distractions.

The leak almost certainly came from a clerk for one of the justices. There’s speculation as to motive and I can see merit in many of the theories there but none stand out so I won’t speculate. But I will say the motive is irrelevant. The incredible breach of trust has damaged the institution of the court and whomever is responsible for the leak must be found and must be disbarred. The Supreme Court must be beyond reproach and so must purge itself of anybody and anything which would leak a confidential draft decision while the justices are still deliberating.

As for the decision itself, assuming the draft to be accurate, it is an incredibly important reminder that elections have consequences and when Republicans voted for Donald Trump in 2016, even the ones who couldn’t stand him, largely they did so because he had a clear plan to appoint conservative constitutionalist justices to the Surpreme Court and a raft of arguably more important circuit courts. The leaked draft decision was exactly the kind of decision, a decision which puts important legislative power in the hands of the states and not the federal government, thus ensuring the wide variety of viewpoints on contentious topics can coexist and each have their own views in law in neighbouring states of one country…it is this type of decision that the voters for Donald Trump were hoping to achieve. That it is happening with abortion is largely a sign of the times. It really could have happened with any number of major topics but this is the one which has been burning away for long enough to reach the Supreme Court at a time when the balance of the court has shifted towards constitutional conservatism.

Donald Trump, through his appointments to the courts, did more to uphold the constitution than any president since Reagan, and maybe even more than Reagan (Reagan did many wonderful things but he had a Cold War to contend with and one can only do so much in eight years). He did what other Republicans have talked a lot about in recent times but never delivered.

After the November midterms later this year, the prolonged circus of people deciding to run for the presidential nomination will kick in to high gear. It would be wise for constitutionalists to remember who actually delivered for them and who opposed him, and vote accordingly, be it for Trump or a similar candidate, if they want the constitution to continue to be upheld and defended. Going back to the types of Republican candidates who have talked up the constitution but achieved nothing and blocked Trump at every turn will just result in the constitutional victories petering out in the near future.

Conversely those who believe the constitution needs to be changed and/or want more power in the hands of the feds rather than the states, will undoubtedly see this Supreme Court decision, or even the leaked draft thereof, to be a rallying cry to elect the sort of politicians who will work to achieve those aims. In the last century or so, that side has been more successful while the conservative constitutionalist side has tended to talk a big game and do very little. Perhaps the tide is turning thanks to an electoral tsunami in 2016.

On a side note. Given Elon Musk’s recent efforts to restore proper freedom of speech on Twitter, I have been considering using it more again. But this topic reminds me that the character limit of Twitter is not conducive to discussing complex points. To boil this down to a handful of tweets would remove valuable context and lead to pointless arguments with strangers over misinterpretations of each other’s points. It’s a pity Elon didn’t buy Facebook instead.

The fact is, in this blog, I have my own little corner of the world. I should use it more. Perhaps I don’t have a lot of time for it and I’m not overly interested in having lengthy debates with people about things these days, but it is nice to be able to write down a few thoughts and let the world wander by to read my ideas every now and then. Whether or not that means I will write more here, I don’t know yet.

Samuel

Entry Filed under: General News,Samuel's Editorials

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