The Right to Impose?

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.

8 thoughts on “The Right to Impose?”

  1. R. Hamilton says:

    Clearly that’s a criticism of the polarization of the process, on both sides.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like if it says anything at all about the nominee, it could actually be a backhanded compliment. He is quoted as saying that judges should “regularly issue judgments with which they disagree as a matter of policy — all because they think that’s what the law fairly demands.”

  2. JakeB says:

    I admit to being a liberal. That said, your argument is disingenuous for failing to note that the primary reason for liberal anger is the theft of the nomination.

    It was noted many times that Merrick Garland was sufficiently centrist that there is no way he would not have been confirmed, if the nomination had actually gotten before Congress.

    1. The conservatives stole the nomination as part of their desire for the power necessary to impose by law what they believe in. The liberals are fuming because they believe they should have had the chance to move the court in their direction so as to have legal decisions imposing the law they believe in.

      1. RRRea says:

        How is a centrist like Garland a “chance to move the court in their direction” with regard to the unrealistic “equality of outcomes not opportunities” you’re pointing out? He doesn’t/didn’t hold to those liberal-ist of positions. The most he does is take the weight of the “control/control/control” conservativist position. So…. getting Garland would have made it less likely the conservatives would have gotten ALL the things they want (and it is all or nothing) vs. the liberals not getting some of the things they want, but Garland mostly wouldn’t have gotten them anyways. Aren’t you equating a false equivalency? One side is definitely being more petty and more unreasonable than the other.

        Not to mention that this slot is really not the one that matters. At best for the conservatives it restores the status quo without the gravitas and legal legerdemain of Scalis. It’s the NEXT opening that is not one of the current conservatives.

        1. I’m talking about the motivations behind each side. Obama pushed for more of a middle ground with Garland, and you saw just how far that went. I didn’t see liberal demonstrations and campaigns for Garland, most likely because that nomination didn’t energize the left.

          1. Derek says:

            I think those on the left were a little too secure in the idea that their candidate would win. No one had a sense of urgency, I know I didn’t, “Sure, stall now, it’ll go through in the end.”

  3. TOM says:

    “… mandated equality of outcomes…”
    Thank you I have been looking for this phrase for years. It is like “equality” an impossiblity in the universe unless it is qualified to specific limitations.

    1. RRRea says:

      I agree. “Equality of outcomes vs. equality of opportunity” is a GENIUS way to encapsulate the position. I love it. I’m stealing it. One is out and out impossible and really won’t accomplish any meaningful goal worthy of governance. The other is the kind of challenge that government is one of the better ways to grapple with as a fundamental position (unreachable but worthy of being constantly strived for)

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