Last Wednesday, 27 June 2018, Justice Anthony Kennedy let the country know he was going to retire. He is 81 years old and has earned his retirement no matter how it changes the supreme court.
As I perused the news websites the morning after, I was surprised at all the doom and gloom on all the eventualities that talking heads claim will (or may) fall upon our heads. Huffington Post has an article about the end of Roe V Wade front and center this morning. Politico has an article about the five issues likely to be affected by Kennedy’s exit. Washington Post has an article about possible loss of Roe V Wade and an article on Kennedy’s deciding 5-4 votes. The Guardian has an article about the political earthquake of the retirement. There are opinion pieces on who the President should pick as a replacement for Kennedy, though I have not read them at this point.
I am not doubting that the President will nominate a white male conservative and that a mostly conservative bench will alter our lives. Those Americans who lean liberal will feel losses. Those Americans who lean conservative will feel they gained. According to Gallup (via Wikipedia) 31% of the population are democrats (liberal/progressive), 24% are republican (conservative) and 42% of the country is independent. (That leaves 3% unaccounted for, so I place them in the pizza and beer party.) Neither of the two major political parties represents the majority of Americans.
I understand the fear my more liberal, more progressive, and LGBT friends express. But I couple knowing their feelings, with the knowledge that progress toward a goal, especially long term goals, usually proceeds two steps forward, one step back. To me, since I lean progressive, a conservative supreme court is that one step back. Yes, I understand the court lasts a long time, but changing a society takes a lot of time and has changing pains as well as some big blunders along the way.
America is always evolving. That evolution swings liberal some decades and swings conservative others. I just hope it is not swinging criminal with the current batch of republicans and democrats and the administration. I am still pissed off at Mitch McConnell for preventing Merritt Garland’s hearing for the Supreme Court. How that precedent affects the upcoming conformation process, I do not know. Are the democrats too few in number to slow things up? Or is there a real possibility that the conformation process is broken? (Plus, there is the possibility the President will nominate someone I believe neither party will get behind, like Rudy Giuliani, and that will slow the conformation process up until after the midterm elections.)
Equal treatment under the law. In the US we have competing visions on what are rights and where lines are drawn to define those rights. That is what we live, and as good citizens endeavor to live in civil harmony.
Now that the supreme court ruled a Colorado baker does not have to bake a wedding cake for the LGBT customers due to religious beliefs, it seems to me the associative properties of math and life and the universe and everything should allow me to not do business with white supremacists, clan members, NRA members, and so on, through the long list of people-groups I find morally objectionable. If we all get to pick and choose who to treat as non-citizens, non-deserving of equal treatment, our society is not in a good place for the goal of maintaining the Union. So I declare that court decision half baked.
Worst Supreme Court decisions in history: Dred Scott is number one (1857) and Korematsu v. United States (Japanese internment) is number three (1944). So the courts have made what hindsight and history decided are terrible decisions over the years (Citizen United  came in at number 13). The supreme court is a group of human beings who have lived in bubbles and have their own prejudices and interpretations. Don’t we all. It is my experience that most people truly try to do their best and do what is right to the best of their ability to determine what is right.
It is up to us, the people, to work to set things straight as we see straight. Setting things straight takes a lot of work. Consider how hard and long conservative Christians have worked to get a supreme court that will overturn Roe v. Wade to protect fetuses that they see as deserving full constitutional and legal protection from harm that breathing human beings receive (equal treatment under the law, a redefinition of where a protected life beings).
There are liberal / progressives working very hard to overturn Citizens United at this moment. Equal treatment under the law and what / who deserves the protection of free speech. And what exactly comprises free speech.
Our competing visions of America should be, in my mind, a friendly competition, not life or death, not chicken little, not spew-filled animosity. The great thing about the United States of America is we have our competition in the open. In the open is messy. We are part of the great American family. Families are messy, but everyone sits down at the supper table together and gives thanks at the end of the day.
I think about the African American communities and how they continue to persevere, first out of slavery, then past Jim Crow, then through equal rights legislation, and now through the shootings that inspire Black Lives Matter. They still strive for that equal treatment under the law and equal treatment within our society. The point is their dedication and persistence to improving their lives and standing in the American society. Although I am sure it goes slower than they wish.
My feeling is that from any change that goes against what you believe is right, take new devotion to your causes and apply steady persistence to achieving your goals. In the RBG documentary, justice Ginsburg relates that getting angry does not help win the argument, so she learned not to verbally blowup at people. If we take her advice where does that leave us who are angry? My thought is anger should be directed to fuel effort to the good fight, the good cause, and especially the good deeds. And when the anger burns itself out, good habits will be in place for persistence to continue to apply pressure.
Love & Light
A couple weeks back I watched a TED talk on replacing elections with random selection that selects government to represent the entire population, not just the rich white part of the population (an intentional exaggeration). As the idea has mulled in my mind over the couple weeks since I saw it, I think it a good idea if true representation democracy is your stated goal. Think about it. The one percent would have, at most, only one percent representation in congress. Those living in poverty would have 13.5% of the representatives, since that is the estimated percent of citizens living in poverty. That in itself is a good start to my way of thinking.