“It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost — to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs — will nonetheless be immense. And this third depression will be primarily a failure of policy. Around the world — most recently at last weekend’s deeply discouraging G-20 meeting — governments are obsessing about inflation when the real threat is deflation, preaching the need for belt-tightening when the real problem is inadequate spending.” – Paul Krugman
Justice Stevens retires today. At the same time the Supreme Court has upheld the Second Amendment against a Chicago suburb to limit handgun rights (the correct decision, I believe), though the Court is getting close to having enough votes to limit gun rights in some cases, according to many constitutional experts.
As Kagan steps up, it’s a good time to ask what does the current Supreme Court know about the average life of an American who just lost his or her unemployment benefits, with no job on the horizon? The answer is absolutely nothing. But on we trudge to an elitist court with nominees who prop up the status quo.
Frankly, I know Ms. Kagan is qualified and has done the track expected. She’s a woman, which is needed on the court, but I find the hearings uninspiring, this choice predictable for an insider Democratic president, who might have been a community organizer once, but is simply forwarding the usual status quo, elitist pick that all presidents prefer.
That Republicans are looking for a way to attack Kagan is just as bad, their hypocrisy legendary when it comes to whining about someone who is a solid mind and as insider as they pretend they’re not.
The whole thing is a pathetic charade. We’ll learn nothing, except which senator grandstands the most. Any debate long since substituted for partisanship, because the Senate doesn’t think anymore.
Segue to Elena Kagan:
“Mr. Chairman, the law school I had the good fortune to lead has a kind of motto, spoken each year at graduation. We tell the new graduates that they are ready to enter a profession devoted to “those wise restraints that make us free.” That phrase has always captured for me the way law, and the rule of law, matters. What the rule of law does is nothing less than to secure for each of us what our Constitution calls “the blessings of liberty” – those rights and freedoms, that promise of equality, that have defined this nation since its founding. And what the Supreme Court does is to safeguard the rule of law, through a commitment to even-handedness, principle, and restraint.
[...] “The idea is engraved on the very face of the Supreme Court building: Equal Justice Under Law. It means that everyone who comes before the Court – regardless of wealth or power or station – receives the same process and the same protections. What this commands of judges is even-handedness and impartiality. What it promises is nothing less than a fair shake for every American.
[...] “[T]he Supreme Court is a wondrous institution. But the time I spent in the other branches of government remind me that it must also be a modest one – properly deferential to the decisions of the American people and their elected representatives. What I most took away from those experiences was simple admiration for the democratic process. That process is often messy and frustrating, but the people of this country have great wisdom, and their representatives work hard to protect their interests. The Supreme Court, of course, has the responsibility of ensuring that our government never oversteps its proper bounds or violates the rights of individuals. But the Court must also recognize the limits on itself and respect the choices made by the American people.”
[...] “I’ve led a school whose faculty and students examine and discuss and debate every aspect of our law and legal system. And what I’ve learned most is that no one has a monopoly on truth or wisdom. I’ve learned that we make progress by listening to each other, across every apparent political or ideological divide. I’ve learned that we come closest to getting things right when we approach every person and every issue with an open mind. And I’ve learned the value of a habit that Justice Stevens wrote about more than fifty years ago – of ‘understanding before disagreeing.’
[...] I will make no pledges this week other than this one – that if confirmed, I will remember and abide by all these lessons. I will listen hard, to every party before the Court and to each of my colleagues. I will work hard. And I will do my best to consider every case impartially, modestly, with commitment to principle, and in accordance with law.”
There isn’t anyone in charge who understands the plight of the American people. Democrats don’t make Republicans actually filibuster, so needed funds won’t get to the desperate. The long hot summer is turning meaner by the minute as the hurricane season revs up.
This post has been updated.