Beinstein column: The Supreme Court has great hope
With increasing frustration directed at both the executive and the legislative branches, the last great hope these days seems to be in the Supreme Court. Regardless of political affiliation, Chief Justice John Roberts should inspire hope.
From a conservative standpoint, he has been a reliable ally with respect to abortion, traditional marriage, gun rights, business, and all the rest. His health care votes alienated some absolute purists, but on balance, he has showed a healthy respect for Constitutional principles.
On a side note, there can only be one Antonin Scalia. How many justices would quote the Talmud in an Opinion? And who else is capable of both being very conservative and genuinely friendly with many, many liberals. He is missed, no question.
And, from a liberal standpoint, Roberts has lived up to his billing as that all-American gentleman. Unlike his successors, he breezed through his confirmation, securing 78 votes, including many from Democrats. In fact, it’s an open secret that then Sen. Barack Obama wanted to vote for Roberts, but his chief of staff told him doing so would poison the wells for any future presidential run.
The left is tremendously unhappy about Kavanaugh, but the truth is he is not the chief justice. Roberts will still head the court, doling out opinions and, as the new swing jurist, will also act as the court’s conscience.
If the Republican justices become too nakedly partisan, he’ll vote the other way. And if the four liberal justices try to destroy our Constitution, he’ll preserve it. Through Roberts, in short, our country, at the very least, will still hear the echoes of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, and all of our brilliant Founding Fathers who bequeathed to us this wonderful republic. Their will and memory will live on.
Sometimes, it seems, every Tweet is binding and all of our Senate theatrics morph into law. But they are often distractions, meant solely to prey on our emotions for the purposes of fundraising or vote gathering or power politics.
But even if our founders couldn’t quite imagine Twitter, they did imagine a Supreme Court as the great defender of our liberties and freedoms. In Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Paper #78, he wrote, “The independence of the judges may be an essential safeguard against the effects of ill humors in the society. … The general liberty of the people can never be endangered from [the Supreme Court]; I mean so long as the judiciary remains truly distinct from both the legislature and the Executive.”
Living under a constitutional republic is no sure thing. Advanced democracies such as the United Kingdom, Israel and Canada are all without a written, codified constitution. France struggles with the concept of an independent judiciary because of its regal legacy of the justices upholding the will of a king.
And the People’s Republic of China offers its citizens no check on its power — no truly independent judiciary, no elections, no freedom of the press; nothing. As Abraham Lincoln said so eloquently so many years ago, we are indeed the last best hope of the earth. Not only do we owe it to ourselves to help perpetuate this republic, but we owe it to all other nations searching for their own liberty and their own freedom.
And in these trying times, our Supreme Court might be the greatest guardian of our republic. There of course will always be debates about the exact nature of the Constitution. This, without question, is very good and healthy. But the process itself — the elections, the press, the freedom of faith — will be protected by the Supreme Court.
And that guarantee of a vibrant, free, and open form of representative democracy should give hope to even those with the coldest and most callous of hearts. As the Scriptures say, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.”
Alex Beinstein is a millennial who grew up in Aspen, lived in Carbondale for a while and now writes from Washington, D.C. His column appears monthly in the Post Independent.
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