Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Checks And Balances

So, here it is: a study in contrasts. On the one hand, we have a presidential election. Every four years, like it or not, our country sets out to make things right/better by shaking things up from the top down. Recently, this has meant that the campaign to put a new face behind that big podium requires at least a couple years' worth of standing behind smaller podiums, waiting for a chance to reach the American people with your vision of a new direction. Or the same old direction. Or some made up paranoid fantasy involving building walls and arming every citizen to protect the unborn citizens until such time as they can start carrying their own weapon and help building that wall. On the other hand, we have this secret society of black-robed individuals who are appointed for life to dispense wisdom and justice to us all. They are replaced only when they are worn out or die. Kind of like Jedi Masters, but with pens instead of light sabers. We trust the people to elect a president, but not enough to select a Supreme Court Justice.
That distinction is left to the executive and legislative branches. They will get together and put the right man or woman in those hallowed chambers for all time in a bipartisan effort to ensure that our Constitution is interpreted correctly and fairly in perpetuity. Ha, ha. I kid. I'm a kidder. That's not what happens, especially when the spot on the nation's highest bench needs to be filled at roughly the same time that all those senators who might be helping ease the transition to a new limb on the judicial branch are busy trying to show the folks back home that they won't let just anybody be a judge on the Supreme Court. You know, the court that decides whether or not Superman can use all of his powers all the time. The court that tries to figure out what to do when Meatless Monday falls on Memorial Day and you've been planning to introduce your friends and family to the epicurean delights of the hamdog. The court that decides at which trimester unborn fetuses will be assigned to build or guard the wall between us and the paranoid fantasies on the other side of that wall.
Things should never be boring, especially when so much of the rest of the world has real shooting wars when there is a change in leadership. We Americans should rejoice in the fact that we have such orderly transitions of power. Way to go, Founding Fathers! You really had this one all figured out. Just like that whole well-regulated militia thing, they probably couldn't have imagined a world with automatic weapons or the need to give them to first graders to protect us all from "the bad guys." It will be fascinating/painful to watch the proceedings as both sides seek to control the pace of the selection while the election continues to drone on in the background.
I believe it was Chief Justice Bette Davis who said it best in her dissenting opinion of Channing v. Harrington, "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night."

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