How About Maybe This?

5 February 2017

American politics is coarsened beyond anything I would have thought possible at the turn of the century.  To be sure, politics is politics and one side always finds fault with the other, but this?  Today we see families and friendships blown asunder because one’s a Democrat, the other a Republican.  One is the Scum of the Earth, the other is the Issue of the Devil.  Over time, each side has only listened to itself, causing a self-reinforcing spiral down into extremism and nonsense.

A recent example is the Supreme Court nomination of a man who is, by all accounts, is a decent fellow.  Decency notwithstanding, one side sees him as the Savior of Family Values, the other sees him as the Wrecker of Personal Liberty.  One side sees him as the apostle of financial prudence, the other sees him as stingy, insensitive and cruel.   Up until Scalia croaked, you could look at any case brought before the court and, based on its political spin, predict exactly how it would be decided.

An aside: A fellow I know said that Democrats want to tell you what to do in the board room, the Republicans want to tell you what to do in the bed room.

Scalia (unarguably recalcitrant and partisan) said this, “… politicians who pick and confirm new federal judges will naturally want only those who agree with them politically”.   Of course, in large measure, Scalia was right: A president, selecting as nominees, only those who pass through the filter of partisan correctness, contributes to the problem we have with the Supreme Court.  Contributes mightily.

Of course it’s too late to do anything about it now.  Trump has picked his man based on the man’s politics and religion. And that means some people would like to crown him with a laurel wreath and ride him through the streets in a royal triumph.  Other’s would like to string him up by his heels in a gas station and use him as a pinata.

There will be other Supreme Court nominations coming along soon, so before the vacancies occur, let me suggest a way to pick nominees that will help quiet our worst impulses.

Whenever a vacancy comes up, the sitting president will ask the bar associations of all fifty states to submit the names of three members they deem best qualified to sit on the court.  These names will come from a popular vote of each bar’s membership.  The names will be put in a fish bowl and the president will reach in and draw out, at random, three names.  These names will be publicized for all to see and after examining the three, the president will pick one.  A process like this would pretty much assure that nominees to the Supreme Court will no longer be hacks, cranks and toadies.  And who but hacks, cranks and toadies — the very people we are trying to weed out — could find fault with this concept?  Sure, people will still be miffed their guy wasn’t nominated, but they’ll be comforted by knowing the guy who did make it wasn’t the stuff of nightmares.

Imagine a Supreme Court that would say — by eight-to-one votes — a woman has a right to get an abortion at any time and, in the next breath, rule  she can walk about the streets, unhindered, with a .45 strapped to her hip?  The Golden Mean will have been achieved and that, dear reader, will cool the passions and prevent our republic from going down the toilet.

— And now that I think on it, this process might be a good way to weed out the unqualified for all elective offices.