Bad news from Politico columnist: Our Supreme Court has lost its honor

Just a little preemptive strike from the left on the eve of the big announcement. If the mandate goes, you’ll be slogging through concern-troll sewage like this for the next week. Might as well put your hip-waders on now.

This is the same guy, by the way, who once dismissed scientific polling as tantamount to “magic.”

For much of modern times, the court has been seen as being above politics. This was very important as a balance to its vast power. Even though justices were appointed by political presidents and approved by political senators, their own politics was to be suppressed.

We realized they were human beings with political opinions, but we expected them to put those opinions aside.

And then came 2000 and the court’s 5-4 decision that made George W. Bush the president of the United States…

The signature of the Roberts Court, Toobin wrote, has been its eagerness to overturn the work of legislatures. This is hardly conservative doctrine but today, politics trumps even ideology. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the court “gutted the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law” which amounted to “a boon for Republicans.”…

At this writing, I do not know how a majority of the justices will rule on Obama’s health care plan, which was passed into law by Congress. Two branches of government have spoken, but their speech is but a whisper compared with the shout of our high court.

The die was cast in 2000. And it would take the most dewy-eyed of optimists to expect the court’s decision to be anything other than political.

Er, no, it’s not the “signature” of the Roberts Court to overturn the work of legislatures, although you’ll hear that repeated ad nauseam in the din of whining if things don’t go the left’s way tomorrow. On the contrary, as of 2010, the Roberts Court was less likely to overturn statutes and precedents than any Court over the past 50 years. And as Jonathan Adler notes, in some high-profile cases where the Court has struck down laws recently, they’ve done so by siding with the left’s position. (Boumediene is the most obvious example.) The reason Simon’s under the impression that they’re cutting a swath through the U.S. Code is because the left has decided that the Citizens United ruling is the font of all political evil and because they’re now staring into the abyss of seeing their biggest progressive “achievement” in decades tossed thanks to the constitutional novelty that is the mandate. Come to think of it, the Court did engage in a bit of “activism” lately by tossing most of the new Arizona immigration law, and yet that’s not mentioned in Simon’s elegy for statutes cruelly and dishonorably culled by an overreaching Court. How come?

Also, is it true that “For much of modern times, the court has been seen as being above politics”? I recall plenty of pants-wetting about politicization in the mid- to late 90s when the Rehnquist Court made a brief feint towards limiting Congress’s Commerce power before seemingly forgetting all about it. And although it was before my time, I know that many conservatives thought the Warren Court was hewing to a political line in its decisions more often than not. My hunch is that the Court tends to be seen as “above politics” when it has a few heterodox members in the Kennedy mold who aren’t always predictable along ideological lines. You saw some of that with the Burger Court and the early Rehnquist Court as liberal dinosaurs like Brennan and Marshall clashed with conservatives like Rehnquist and Scalia while more centrist justices like Powell and Stewart broke the stalemate. When you’ve got a Court with a stable, fairly ideologically solid majority, you’re going to hear the “politicization” charge more often. When you don’t, you won’t. Which reminds me: When was the last time a Democratic appointee played the Kennedy swing-vote role on the Court by siding occasionally with conservatives? Run through the list of justices and you’ll find plenty of post-war examples of Republican appointees voting liberal — consistently so in the notorious cases of Brennan, Stevens, and Souter. Who’s the last Democratic justice who proved to be something more than an almost entirely predictable liberal-voting hack while on the Court? I think you have to go back to Byron White — a JFK appointee who landed on the Court 50 years ago. So much for “above politics.”

Speaking of predictable hacks, here’s Chris Matthews warming up his “is this a new Dred Scott?” routine for tomorrow, just in case. And Patches Kennedy is warning of some sort of tea-party apocalypse if the law is upheld, which is not untrue if you define “apocalypse” in terms of “massive voter turnout.” Exit quotation from Timothy Carney, weighing the consequences of left-wing epistemic closure: “The truth is we’ve entered an era where many liberal commentators are willing to dismiss any argument as illegitimate just because they don’t like it.” Click the image to watch.

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