Today the Supreme Court of the United States begins its new term — and it’s going to be a goatfuck rodeo. We’re talking abortion rights, gun rights, religious rights. To make matters worse, these cases are all coming at a moment when the reputation of SCOTUS as an independent apolitical institution is at its lowest point in history.
And the justices on the Court — particularly the conservative majority — know it. They’ve spent the last couple of months making a preemptive attempt to repair the Court’s reputation. Last Thursday, Justice Samuel Alito gave a speech defending the Court’s refusal to act on the new Texas abortion law. He claimed that the tsunami of criticism faced by the Court was, in effect, an effort “to intimidate the court or damage it as an independent institution.”
A month ago, Justice Clarence Thomas gave a speech in which he stated the Court doesn’t base decisions on their personal feelings or religious beliefs. He warned that the people who criticize the Court risked “destroying our institutions because they don’t give us what we want when we want it.”
A week or so before Thomas’ speech, Justice Amy Coney Barrett gave a speech claiming any divisions on the Court were a result of differing judicial philosophies, not partisan motivations. She said, “[T]his court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks.”
When three of the most conservative judges on the most conservative Supreme Court in modern history all feel compelled to defend the Court against claims of being driven by partisan political ideology rather than by the law, you’re almost forced to quote William Fucking Shakespeare. The Court doth protest too much, methinks.
(Okay, sorry, short tangent…wait, two short tangents. First, I’ve come to despise that archaic term, methinks. A lot of people use it in a way that sounds ironic, but it usually comes across as cute. Cute and irony go together like corn flakes and okra. Second, for some reason, people who quote that line tend to put ‘methinks’ at the beginning. That’s not how Shakespeare wrote it. At least quote it accurately, people.)
In Hamlet, that line is delivered in response to a play that takes place within the play itself (look, it’s Shakespeare, everything is complicated in Shakespeare). Queen Gertrude is commenting on an actor’s performance; she’s basically saying the actor’s declarations of love and fidelity are too excessive to be believed.
That applies to the speeches made by these three judges. Their declarations of independence and political objectivity are too excessive to be believed. Alito, Thomas, and Coney Barrett can claim SCOTUS is an independent institution not comprised of partisan hacks who act on personal religious beliefs or political ideology — but nobody believes them. Because that’s exactly what they are, and that’s exactly why the GOP put them on the goddamned bench. Uh…in my opinion.
Here’s an analogy: if a chef secretly poured an ounce of urine into six quarts of Tuscan soup and served it to you, you’d eat it. You wouldn’t be able to taste the urine, and it wouldn’t do you any harm to eat it. But if you SAW the chef pour an ounce of urine into the soup, you wouldn’t eat it. Wouldn’t matter if you couldn’t taste it, or that it wouldn’t harm you, you’d push the bowl away. Not only that, you wouldn’t trust that chef to cook for you again.
We all SAW Trump and the GOP Senate pee in the SCOTUS soup. Doesn’t matter if the conservatives on the Court tell us there’s nothing in the soup that can harm us, there’s no way we’re going to trust that soup.
EDITORIAL NOTE: Yes, we ‘eat’ soup. The reason we don’t ‘drink’ it is because many (maybe most, I don’t know) soups have solids in them that require chewing. Eating involves chewing and swallowing; drinking is swallowing without chewing. So stop fretting about it.