Discover more from Diane Francis
America's Rogues in Robes
June 27, 2022
The biggest problem with America’s democracy is not Congressional gridlock nor Presidents, but a Supreme Court comprised of judges who are handpicked for political gain, are biased, and can never be removed. Britain, by contrast, makes them retire and has an independent commission set up to select them. But in the U.S., the legal system is politicized and the country’s current highest Court is packed with radical conservatives, recently handing down decisions on abortion and guns that are unmoored from the rule of law as well as from American public opinion. Six of the nine justices voted to withdraw federal legal support for abortion rights, stranding women living in anti-abortion states, then ruled against gun controls that require permits to carry guns in public. Both decisions are contrary to public opinion and will spawn social unrest and violence and litigation, and may also embolden the Court’s six-pack to turn its attention to attacking gay rights, same-sex marriage, contraception and goodness knows what. Notably, the abortion decision was immediately praised by the Vatican, another enclave of intolerant men.
Courts should reflect public opinion somewhat, but not this one. Roughly 70 percent of all Americans supported federal abortion rights, referred to as Roe v Wade, that was just turfed. Since 1975, support for abortion rights has increased from 75 to 85 percent. The same applies to gun controls. A recent poll showed that 59 percent of voters were in favour of stricter gun laws than now exist and a majority, from both political parties, oppose people carrying concealed weapons without a permit – the precise gun control measure that the Supreme Court just struck down as unconstitutional. Worse, the decision may have zeroed in on the permit requirement, but the Court’s reasoning represents a Pandora’s Box that will lead to legal and state legislative attacks against any and all types of gun controls.
The basis behind this continuing conservative reverence for guns is a cock-eyed interpretation of an arcane clause in the Second Amendment to the Constitution, written in 1789: “A well- regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” To persons with a cortex, this is lunacy. A loner with a war weapon who sprays a school or church or workplace using a weapon that the Founders could never have envisioned has nothing to do with maintaining a “well-regulated Militia” nor is he “necessary to the security of a free State”. A lone gunman demolishes both.
Further, this latest Supreme Court gun foray begs the question as to who will serve in America’s bona fide “Militias” — the police or the National Guard — when its populace is increasingly armed to the teeth on its streets? Theoretically, the Supreme Court’s new ruling means enough guns could be toted, or in holsters, in Times Square every day to arm a small country.
This fallacious interpretation of the Second Amendment has bequeathed every American a God-given right to own as many guns as he or she can afford. Today, this includes ownership of modern-day assault weapons that can kill a small herd of deer within seconds, or dozens of kids in a classroom. America is home to more guns than people — or 120 for every 100 persons — compared with Canada’s 34.5 guns per 100 persons where gun controls are appropriately tight. This is why, in part, there are disproportionately more gun-related murders and suicides in the United States than in Canada. The latest figures show 40,175 gun-related deaths in the United States in one year and 767 in Canada with one-tenth its population.
Illustrating the Court’s tone-deafness is the fact that the day it handed down permission to carry guns in public, Congress passed a bilateral and sweeping gun law reform bill that most Americans support: universal background checks, keeping people with serious mental health issues from buying guns, and so-called “red flag laws” that would allow police and family members to seek court orders to temporarily take guns away from those considered a risk to themselves and others.
The dissonance between the two branches of government will turn into a legal industry as legislation will be attacked, revised, replaced, protested against and litigated. For instance, New York, California and New Jersey require permits to carry guns outside the home and are trying to figure out what to do. The Court edict said guns could still be banned in “sensitive places”, whatever that means. As Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer pointed out, in the dissenting opinion: “Where does that leave the many locations in a modern city with no obvious 18th- or 19th-century analogue? What about subways, nightclubs, movie theatres, and sports stadiums?”
Members of America’s Supreme Court have never been representative of the country. Six out of current nine are males, six out of nine are roman Catholic in a mostly protestant or secularized society and the Court is overwhelmingly white. They are also partisan and biased so their decisions reflect the policies of the party or politician that nominated and appointed them.
Arguably, this Court is also guilty of failing to uphold the laws it’s supposed to protect. These two decisions alone — on guns and abortion — impose enormous and unjustifiable burdens on the country’s existing law enforcement system in two respects: 1) police must now hunt down, investigate and prosecute women in half of the country for “offences” that are legal in the other half; and 2) the nation’s police, National Guard and security forces now face a tsunami of violence because millions of Americans will be allowed to carry arms wherever they wish. This means that bar fights, heated sporting events, traffic accidents, political disputes and jostled crowds in Times Square could easily escalate into murder and mayhem.
Americans with common sense are outraged as well as concerned, but there may be a silver lining in all of this: the voting booth. Supporters of abortion rights and gun controls must get out the vote and back candidates in favour of those two issues in the upcoming mid-terms. Given the support for both gun controls and abortion rights, and if they turn out to vote, the tide could be turned in many states and the House. In the meantime, however, there are now “two Americas” for females – those who live in the 13 states that outlawed abortion after the Court’s decision immediately after the decision was announced — and the rest. And America will be more dangerous for everyone as this Court has launched a process of gutting all gun controls.
Both outcomes threaten the American democratic experiment and all because of the existence of this doctrinaire, biased and ideological Supreme Court.
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