With Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, liberals are fuming, and conservatives are rejoicing. Both ought to be weeping.
The “battle” over the appointment of a justice to succeed the late Antonin Scalia hasn’t been a battle over law, or justice, but a fight over who can impose what on whom. And it’s a fight we shouldn’t be having, one that the Founding Fathers very much tried to avoid, both in the structure of our government and in the clause that was designed to separate church and state.
That clause was included in the Right of Rights specifically because European history of the previous centuries had essentially been a series of “religious wars” fought to determine who could impose whose belief system on whom.
The conservative religious right in the United States very much wants secular law to embody their religious beliefs, and, where possible, they’ve attempted to accomplish just that. The ultra-liberal left tends to want to impose what one might call mandated equality of outcomes, as opposed to true equality of opportunity.
The right doesn’t really want true equality of opportunity because it would destroy the world they know by getting rid of legacy admissions to Ivy League universities, limiting preferential education and opportunity based on familial resources, removing female deference to men and acknowledging that women do not have to be brood mares, eliminating male gender superiority in virtually all economic and political structures, and by requiring an acceptance of all individuals based on character, ability, and accomplishment.
The left doesn’t really want true equality of opportunity because it would reveal that, regardless of anything else, individuals have different capabilities; that certain cultures and cultural practices are in fact toxic, that certain other cultures and cultural practices do in fact achieve better results, that effort without competence and ability is meaningless, and that all the government programs in the world cannot elevate those unwilling to make the effort…among other things.
And both sides tend to be resolute in their view that compromise is unacceptable; even while decrying the same sort of unyielding religious warfare that is taking place in the Middle East.
As I’ve written before, justice is an ideal, an ideal that can never be reached, but one that we should aspire to, nonetheless, while law is an imperfect tool, albeit one of the best we have, in an effort to achieve justice… but it is not the only tool. Without understanding, compassion, and compromise, law becomes a tyrant. And right now both sides want absolute control of that tool, rather than seeking a way to keep it from imposing a tyranny on the non-believers, i.e., the other side.