Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs

More gems from The New York Times on the Schiavo case:
Conservatives, already disdainful of the way judges have handled subjects like same-sex marriage and abortion, say the court treatment of the Schiavo case illustrates a judiciary that is willing to ignore the will of the public and elected officials.

So let me get this straight. The "will of the public and elected officials," according to some of these conservatives, is somehow supposed to hold meaningful water in all this? What kind of populist, reality-TV view of the judiciary are these boneheads promoting? Assuming that we could effectively measure "the will of the public" on this one — and disregard the obvious point that most polls indicate that "the public" sees things a little differently than Frist and Friends — how precisely would that collective public opinion generate a desirable outcome in this case? Should we put this to a vote? Only right-wingers and people (like myself, sadly) who pay attention to right-wing media had ever heard of Terri Schiavo before last week. Are these the people whose "will" we're being asked to acknowledge?

The significant part of that quoted passage comes in the clever elision of "the will of the public" and "elected officials." As everyone seems to have figured out by now, "the will of the people" may be translated as "the will of the Christian conservative base," and "elected officials" may be translated as "the elected officials who suckle the virgin teat of that base." Only in this sort of distorted atmosphere could Congressional conservatives pretend that this recent court decision — which was, I remind you, prompted by an unprecedented law forcing a case into federal courts— was the Satanic spawn of an "activist judge." What the fuck?

All of this is so fucking depressing. These people don't want to overturn Roe v. Wade; they want to throttle Marbury v. Madison while they're at it. (Note to self: Next year, in History 131, spend more time discussing the Marbury case and the argument for judicial review as a necessary check against popular democratic wingnuttery.) They're going to go utterly beasty when the next round of judicial nominations come before the Senate. Feed them all to the lions, I say. That's the only kind of populist spectacle I could endorse right now.