Justice Alito got his knickers in a twist about being criticized by the American public, those sensible creatures like you and me, in sensible shoes, who take offense when the Supreme Court messes with our rights. Sniffy is kind of an old-fashioned word, defined as “having or showing arrogant superiority to and disdain of those one views as unworthy.” Unworthy, huh?
Guess we’re just not as elite as Alito
In a speech at Notre Dame University, Sam called criticism of the shadow docket 'silly' and 'misleading.' It was a general reference, but clearly pointed at the controversy over the Court upholding the new Texas abortion law.
Noting that the term was coined in a 2015 law review article, Alito said that the term has been adopted by "journalists and some political figures" in order to convey the idea that "something sneaky and dangerous" is going on at the high court when it rules on emergency appeals seeking the court's intervention.
You know you’ve struck a kernel of truth when one of the Supremes doth complain too much. In defense of emergency appeals, he went on:
"The catchy and sinister term 'shadow docket' has been used to portray the court as having been captured by a dangerous cabal that resorts to sneaky and improper methods to get its way. And this portrayal feeds unprecedented efforts to intimidate the court or damage it as an independent institution."
Indeed, the Supreme Court has long been willing to grant temporary relief in a limited number of cases to preserve the status quo, especially when there is a strong case that individuals will be harmed if the court does not act.
Oh, dear me, a case of self-incrimination
I put it to you that ‘individuals’ (rape victims, the poor, the disadvantaged) were grossly and immediately harmed by enabling the Texas law. Ditto the 2000 end of the Florida election recount that gave us George Bush as President.
The ‘individuals’ harmed by that egregious finding include Al Gore, everyone who voted in 2000, countless dead in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as those institutionally tortured (abu Ghraib and Guantanamo) non-combatants.
Alito and voting rights
(NPR) The Supreme Court deals a new blow to voting rights, upholding Arizona restrictions. The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday gutted most of what remains of the landmark Voting Rights Act. The court's decision, while leaving some protections involving redistricting in place, left close to a dead letter the law once hailed as the most effective civil rights legislation in the nation's history.
So, they left redistricting in place. Bless their small and vicious hearts, redistricting is the soft-word for gerrymandering, widely understood as a method by which the state party in control cuts away the fat of minority voters to leave the lean red meat of conservatives. Guess what color the harmed individuals are in this case.
The 6-3 vote was along ideological lines, with Justice Samuel Alito writing the decision for the court's conservative majority, and the liberals in angry dissent.
Ideological? There is nothing remotely ideological in this decision, it’s nakedly political. The media does us wrong when they confuse rampant sexism (Texas abortion) and racism as ideological. With two recent members appointed by Donald Trump, Chief Justice John Roberts has lost all control over the court.
One more reference and then I’m outta here
Early on, Alito said "the catchy and sinister term 'shadow docket' has been used to portray the court as having been captured by a dangerous cabal that resorts to sneaky and improper methods to get its way. And this portrayal feeds unprecedented efforts to intimidate the court or damage it as an independent institution."
Well, catchy and sinister is absolutely correct, and corroborated by a 40% public approval rating.
As for shadow docket, the dangerous cabal Alito refers to includes fellow justice Elena Kagan, who wrote that the unsigned majority opinion "illustrates how far the court's 'shadow docket' decisions may depart from the usual principles of appellate process."
So, who then is to blame? As I wrote on exactly this date, some 17 years ago,
“Well, we are all to blame. Our blame is that we shout rather than come together. Our blame is we have too little compassion for another point of view and not enough interest in hearing a minority voice. Our blame is allowing a climate that advances the politics of fear and the institutionalizing of retribution within our government. Our blame is that we sue the hell out of everyone because we are too intellectually lazy to work through problems to reach common understandings. Our blame is our rage and the transfer of that rage to the driver in the next lane, the homeless man on our street, the delay of our flight to Houston and being out of coffee on Sunday morning. Our civility within the nation is unravelling at the hem.”
Unfortunately, some things change and some only get worse with age.
Image Credit: Roll Call