The Chief Joker

Dubya's most enduring legacy

Stevens/Souter, version 2020.0

Fewer things can be more disreputable than getting tasked with an important job, one which requires your word of honor to attain, yet eventually shirking its responsibilities.

Note that I said “fewer things,” not “nothing.” So, what is more disdainful than the aforementioned? Shirking your responsibilities not out of laziness or sheer disinterest, but allegiance to values outside the realm of your job — like social respectability, media popularity, or approval from a rabid mob.

John Roberts, the Chief (so-called) Justice of the United States Supreme Court, falls into the latter group.

Why? While I think that everyone knows the answer by now, just in case a handful have not heard the news, last week, Matt Patrick, a Republican presidential elector from Dallas, said the following on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives, where the Lone Star State’s share of the presidential race had just been voted on:

(This) was written by someone who is a current staffer for one of the (U.S.) Supreme Court justices and I’ll just describe the report to you that I read and you can make of it what you will. He said that the justices, as they always do, went into a closed room to discuss cases they’re taking, you know, their due debate, there’s no phones, no computers, no nothing. No one else is in the room except for the nine justices.

It’s typically very civil. They usually don’t hear any sound. They just debate what they are doing. But when the Texas case was brought up, he said he heard screaming through the walls as Justice Roberts and the other liberal justices were insisting that this case not be taken up and the reason, the words that were heard through the wall, when Justice Thomas and Justice Alito were citing Bush v. Gore, from John Roberts were, “I don’t give a **** about that case! I don’t want to hear about it! At that time, we didn’t have riots!”

So, what he was saying was that he was afraid of what would happen if they did the right thing and I’m sorry, but that is moral cowardice, and we in the (State Republican Executive Committee) put those words in (a resolution asking electors in four states with credible allegations of widespread ballot fraud to disregard November’s results) because the charge of the Supreme Court is to ultimately be our final arbitrator, our final line of defense, for right and wrong and they did not do their duty.

So, I think we should leave these words in because I want to send a strong message to them. Thank you.

As Patrick walked away from the podium, he was met with applause, as well he should have been.

It is telling that Roberts never disputed the claim made by Patrick’s source. It is also telling that neither Alito or Thomas released a statement debunking said claim. Patrick’s comments made national news, whipping those who believe the presidential election was stolen into an uproar, so one can hardly allege that any of these justices simply missed the story.

Also last week, historian Varad Metha and Harvard Law School Professor Adrian Vermeule wrote an article which I am quite surprised made it into the pages of The Washington Post, given this publication’s avowed stance in opposition to all things Donald Trump.

Titled John Roberts’s self-defeating attempt to make the court appear nonpolitical, and subtitled, “(h)is obviously strategic opinions have infuriated the right — and emboldened the left,” the piece is a damning one for the Chief ‘Justice.’ If there is an article which, I imagine, Roberts fears seeing in his morning paper, it is this one — though, perhaps, the fellow would have been more appalled if he was alleged to be emboldening the right, rather than the left.

“Roberts famously said at his confirmation hearing that the role of the justices is just to ‘call balls and strikes,’” Metha and Vermeule wrote. “No one thinks that is an apt description of his judging. By striving so conspicuously to depoliticize the Supreme Court, he has brought about the very thing he hoped to prevent: No one has done more to politicize the court than the chief justice.”

There is so much ground covered by Metha and Vermeule, and it is all so worthwhile, that I do not even know how to begin summarizing their work, which should be ranked among the best in judicial and political commentary over the last several years.

What really sticks out to me, though, is that which was stated at their article’s end: “Two of Roberts’s consequential legacies will probably be the very politicization of the Supreme Court he sought to prevent, and a Republican Party that is likely to turn ‘No more Robertses!’ into a mantra — as it did ‘No more Souters!’ The chief will have no one to blame but himself.”

Indeed.

It seems to me, and quite a few others, that Roberts is animated by those things I mentioned at the beginning of this piece: social respectability (within the Greater D.C. upper-crust, specifically), media popularity (with the overwhelming majority of the press being left-of-center, at the very least), or approval from a rabid mob (mindlessly incensed miscreants might view Roberts as a temporary ally, placing him in good graces with these folks and — far more importantly — the ‘journalists,’ ‘academics,’ and other culture class members who lionize them).

Roberts, therefore, is not a guy who simply derelicts his duty. He is a man, and I use this term very loosely, who eschews his judicial responsibilities on account of ‘higher callings,’ namely that unholy trinity which I have described twice now. He is not simply a sub-par justice, but the mockery of what a justice should be, not to mention the polar opposite of the aspiring chief justice he portrayed himself as during his confirmation hearing over fifteen years ago.

Also, Roberts is the most enduring legacy of the presidency of George W. Bush. Though reviled by the pre-Barack Obama Administration left, Bush came to be regarded with a bizarre fondness by ex-enemies during his successor’s presidency. Now, Dubya is more popular with Democrats than Republicans. Interestingly, GOPers assail the Dubya legacy with almost as much fervor as devoted Dems once did.

Considering the actions of the Chief Joker — and that is really what Roberts is, a weak excuse for a man who parodies the concept of sound justice, rendering him an unentertaining clown — one can at least figure out why today’s Republicans dislike Dubya so much, while modern Dems look upon their once-foe with kindness.

Why look a gift horse in the mouth, when the gift is so valuable as the Chief Joker himself?

Picture of the Day

Montverde, Florida, taken by yours truly almost ten years ago. Feel free to use in any way you like; please credit me if used in public outside of social media, though.

Poem of the Day

By Richard Watson Gilder, from The New Day

III—"A BARREN STRETCH THAT SLANTS TO THE SALT SEA'S GRAY"

A barren stretch that slants to the salt sea's gray,—
⁠Rock-strewn, and scarred by fire, and rough with stubble,—
With here and there a bold, bright touch of color—
Berries and yellow leaves, that make the dolor
⁠More dolorous still. Above, a sky of trouble.

But now a light is lifted in the air;
⁠And tho' the sky is shadowed, fold on fold,
⁠By clouds that have the lightnings in their hold,
That western gleam makes all the dim earth fair—
⁠And the gray sea gold.