Monday, May 5, 2014

Balls and Strikes My Ass

“Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules; they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ball game to see the umpire... I will remember that it’s my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat.” 
-- Chief Justice John Roberts during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee
Is there a group of people more self-delusional than conservative members of the Supreme Court? Thinking themselves disinterested adjudicators floating far above the fray of politics and ideology, they're just humble servants of the Constitution, Ma'am, ruling the way the founders (God love 'em) intended.

Meanwhile, those of us living here on planet Earth, get to deal with the results of their reactionary rulings:
Justice Antonin Scalia is known as a consistent and principled defender of free speech rights.
It pained him, he has said, when he voted to strike down a law making flag burning a crime. “If it was up to me, if I were king,” he said, “I would take scruffy, bearded, sandal-wearing idiots who burn the flag, and I would put them in jail.” But the First Amendment stopped him.
That is a powerful example of constitutional principles overcoming personal preferences. But it turns out to be an outlier. In cases raising First Amendment claims, a new study found, Justice Scalia voted to uphold the free speech rights of conservative speakers at more than triple the rate of liberal ones. In 161 cases from 1986, when he joined the court, to 2011, he voted in favor of conservative speakers 65 percent of the time and liberal ones 21 percent.
The chart accompanying the article is particularly eye-opening, and actually undermines some of the article (and certainly the headline), which has a "both-sides-do it" tone. According to the actual data, there is no comparison between the ideological impact on voting in free-speech cases by liberal and conservative justices. The conservatives are off the charts in voting for outcomes they agree with ideologically, as opposed to neutrally applying first-amendment tests.

The blow to the reputation of the Supreme Court that was struck by the Bush v. Gore travesty has only been made worse by the Roberts Court. Hacks, we have a court filled with a majority of hacks.

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