Judging the Judge: What Antonin Scalia’s Death Means to the People I Love

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I am not sad Antonin Scalia is dead.

Wow! It feels so good to say that out loud!

Come on. Admit it. You probably feel the same way.

I know. I know. Everywhere you turn, people are going out of their way to talk about the ramifications of the 79-year-old Supreme Court Justice’s death without passing judgement on him.

“Let’s keep it classy,” they say.

Oh. Stop it.

In his 30 years on the bench, Scalia hurt an awful lot of people. And I mean real, live people – not ideological constructs, not hypotheticals – but moms, dads, husbands, wives, daughters, and sons.

The aggregate amount of misery in the world was drastically increased by his being in it. And now that he’s gone, much of that misery may be relieved.

So please curb any shock you may feel at my thesis. And spare me the false praise of a truly reprehensible human being.

He was against women controlling their own bodies, efforts to desegregate our schools, an individual’s right to love whomever they choose, refraining from executing mentally disabled or teenage prisoners. Heck! He was even against police reading suspects their Miranda Rights!

This was a person who said black people should go to “slower” colleges, homosexuality was the same as murder or bestiality, sex discrimination is constitutional, and maybe we have a right to all carry around rocket launchers in public.

If it is outrageous to feel relief at the death of this man, you may call me outrageous.

I’m not usually the kind of person who celebrates someone else’s death. Not even a famous person.

But you have to admit that the people we love are a lot better off without Scalia in the world.

It’s not like he kept all this to himself. He wasn’t some lone drunkard in the back of the bar mumbling sexist, racist views. He wasn’t your ancient uncle who you only see twice a year making people uncomfortable at the dinner table. He was a judge in the highest court in the land, and his demented and warped world view drove public policy impacting… well… everyone.

He was the deciding vote in several 5-4 decisions that – if they had gone differently – would have greatly benefited every person in this country.

You can thank him for the Presidency of George W. Bush and Citizens United. Let that sink in for a moment.

Imagine all the horrific blunders of the Bush Presidency – easily the worst administration in my lifetime. If the Supreme Court hadn’t given the highest office in the land to Dubya, arguably we wouldn’t have had the Irag War, the Great Recession, No Child Left Behind, the slow response to Hurricane Katrina – maybe even 9-11.

And if you hate what our elections have become, imagine if we didn’t have the Citizens United verdict. Campaign donations would have to be made in public with some limits on how much individuals and corporations can contribute.

How much better the world would have been without these terrible decisions!

I’m not saying Scalia wasn’t a good man in his personal life. I have no idea what he was like to the people he loved. For all I know he may have been a good friend, a loving husband, father and grandfather. He probably had people he cared about and who cared about him. And to those people I send my condolences.

However, he did great harm to just about everyone else. And for that I feel nothing but relief at his death.

Who am I to bask in such schadenfreude?

I am a father and public school teacher.

I have a seven-year-old daughter and several classes full of mostly impoverished and minority students.

And Scalia’s death is good for everyone I care about.

If he were still alive, there was so much more damage he could have done. Take the Friedrichs case, an important one for teachers like me.

The case is an attempt to strip teachers unions of the right to charge members for their services. If the court rules in favor of Friedrichs, it would overturn decades of established law against free riders. People would be allowed to be in a union, enjoy higher salary and benefits negotiated by that union, but not pay dues. It would be absurd. Yet with Scalia still on the bench, most court watchers seem to think we would have had another terrible 5-4 decision.

However, with Scalia’s death, the best anti-union forces would probably receive is a 4-4 decision – not enough to overturn established law. True the case has already been heard by the justices, but a ruling has not yet been handed down. According to the Supreme Court blog, even if Scalia had already written a ruling on this matter, it would be void. Any rulings he wrote that have not yet been made public don’t count.

So the most likely outcome now is that millions of people will continue to be protected from unfair labor practices. And you expect me not to have a big ‘ol smile on my face!?

So where do we go from here?

President Barack Obama will select who is to succeed Scalia. Numerous excellent choices have been floated. If Obama chooses any one of them, he would probably tilt the court fractionally to the left.

Before the body was even cold, Republicans vowed to block any nominee Obama makes until the next President is sworn in. Some are trying out the talking point that Supreme Court Justices have never been sworn in during an election year. But if that were true, we wouldn’t have Justice Anthony Kennedy who was confirmed during the last year of Reagan’s presidency.

Funny. The U.S. Constitution clearly states that the President has the right to nominate Supreme Court Justices with the advice of Congress. Yet so many of these right leaning partisans who considered themselves Constitutionalists last week suddenly find themselves against that revered document today.

I wonder how Scalia would have argued such a situation.

Not really. He was the one who taught the rest of his party how to twist the words of the founding fathers to mean whatever the far right favors this week.

Obama still has more than 300 days in office. If Republicans try to block his nomination until a new face tops the Executive, it would be the longest such obstruction in a century. Of sitting justices, the longest confirmation period was for Clarence Thomas who took 106 days to be approved by Congress.

And that brings us to the 2016 Presidential race.

Scalia’s death is likely to have a huge impact on whom becomes our next President.

If Republicans block Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, it would probably increase voter turnout. Whenever that happens, it favors Democrats since they have more registered members than the GOP.

Either way, Scalia’s death is probably beneficial to whomever the Democratic nominee will be. If either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders get the nomination, supporters of the defeated candidate are more likely to support the reigning Democrat.

Even if voters don’t like the winner’s policies as much as their preferred candidate, they’re likely to support the nominee in order to continue tipping the Supreme Court to the left. After all, three additional justices are 70 or older. Stephen Breyer is 77, Anthony Kennedy is 79, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 82.

We have had a long haul these last 15 years. Much social progress has been stalled.

But now that Scalia is out of the picture, the future looks bright.

Maybe things really will turn out alright. Maybe we’ll actually have a chance to build that better world we’ve all been dreaming about.

Rest in Peace, Scalia. The nation can’t wait to move on without you.

What Antonin Scalia’s Death Means to the People I Love

antonin-scalia-26

I’m not sad Antonin Scalia is dead.

Wow! It feels so good to say that aloud!

Come on. Admit it. You feel exactly the same way.

I know. I know. Everywhere you turn, people are going out of their way to talk about the ramifications of the 79-year-old Supreme Court Justice’s death without passing judgement on him.

“Let’s keep it classy,” they say.

Oh. Stop it.

In his 30 years on the bench, Scalia hurt an awful lot of people. And I mean real, live people – not ideological constructs, not hypotheticals – but moms, dads, husbands, wives, daughters, and sons.

The aggregate amount of misery in the world was drastically increased by his being in it. And now that he’s gone, much of that misery may be relieved.

So spare me any shock at my thesis. Spare me the false praise of a truly reprehensible human being.

He was against women controlling their own bodies, efforts to desegregate our schools, an individual’s right to love whomever they choose, refraining from executing mentally disabled or teenage prisoners. Heck! He was even against police reading suspects their Miranda Rights!

This was a person who said black people should go to “slower” colleges, homosexuality was the same as murder or bestiality, sex discrimination is constitutional, and maybe we have a right to all carry around rocket launchers in public.

If it is outrageous to feel relief at the death of this man, you may call me outrageous.

I’m not usually the kind of person who celebrates someone else’s death. Not even a famous person.

But you have to admit that the people we love are a lot better off without Scalia in the world.

It’s not like he kept all this to himself. He wasn’t some lone drunkard in the back of the bar mumbling sexist, racist views. He wasn’t your ancient uncle who you only see twice a year making people uncomfortable at the dinner table. He was a judge in the highest court in the land, and his demented and warped world view drove public policy impacting… well… everyone.

He was the deciding vote in several 5-4 decisions that – if they had gone differently – would have greatly benefited every person in this country.

You can thank him for the Presidency of George W. Bush and Citizens United. Let that sink in for a moment.

Imagine all the horrific blunders of the Bush Presidency – easily the worst administration in my lifetime. If the Supreme Court hadn’t given the highest office in the land to Dubya, arguably we wouldn’t have had the Iraq War, the Great Recession, No Child Left Behind, the slow response to Hurricane Katrina – maybe even 9-11.

And if you hate what our elections have become, imagine if we didn’t have the Citizens United verdict. Campaign donations would have to be made in public with some limits on how much individuals and corporations can contribute.

How much better the world would have been without these terrible decisions!

I’m not saying Scalia wasn’t a good man in his personal life. I have no idea what he was like to the people he loved. For all I know he may have been a good friend, a loving husband, father and grandfather. He probably had people he cared about and who cared about him. And to those people I send my condolences.

However, he royally screwed just about everyone else. And for that I feel nothing but relief at his death. If only it had come sooner.

Who am I to bask in such schadenfreude?

I am a father and public school teacher.

I have a seven-year-old daughter and several classes full of mostly impoverished and minority students.

And Scalia’s death is good for everyone I care about.

If he were still alive, there was so much more damage he could have done. Take the Friedrichs case, an important one for teachers like me.

The case is an attempt to strip teachers unions of the right to charge members for their services. If the court rules in favor of Friedrichs, it would overturn decades of established law against free riders. People would be allowed to be in a union, enjoy higher salary and benefits negotiated by that union, but not pay dues. It would be absurd. Yet with Scalia still on the bench, most court watchers seem to think we would have had another terrible 5-4 decision.

However, with Scalia’s death, the best anti-union forces would probably receive is a 4-4 decision – not enough to overturn established law. True the case has already been heard by the justices, but a ruling has not yet been handed down. According to the Supreme Court blog, even if Scalia had already written a ruling on this matter, it would be void. Any rulings he wrote that have not yet been made public don’t count.

So the most likely outcome now is that millions of people will continue to be protected from unfair labor practices. And you expect me not to have a big ‘ol smile on my face!?

So where do we go from here?

President Barack Obama will select who is to succeed Scalia. Numerous excellent choices have been floated. If Obama chooses any one of them, he would probably tilt the court fractionally to the left.

Before the body was even cold, Republicans vowed to block any nominee Obama makes until the next President is sworn in. Some are trying out the talking point that Supreme Court Justices have never been sworn in during an election year. But if that were true, we wouldn’t have Justice Anthony Kennedy who was confirmed during the last year of Reagan’s presidency.

Funny. The U.S. Constitution clearly states that the President has the right to nominate Supreme Court Justices with the advice of Congress. Yet so many of these right leaning partisans who considered themselves Constitutionalists last week suddenly find themselves against that revered document today.

I wonder how Scalia would have argued such a situation.

Not really. He was the one who taught the rest of his party how to twist the words of the founding fathers to mean whatever the far right favors this week.

Obama still has more than 300 days in office. If Republicans try to block his nomination until a new face tops the Executive, it would be the longest such obstruction in a century. Of sitting justices, the longest confirmation period was for Clarence Thomas who took 106 days to be approved by Congress.

And that brings us to the 2016 Presidential race.

Scalia’s death is likely to have a huge impact on whom becomes our next President.

If Republicans block Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, it would probably increase voter turnout. Whenever that happens, it favors Democrats since they have more registered members than the GOP.

Either way, Scalia’s death is probably beneficial to whomever the Democratic nominee will be. If either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders get the nomination, supporters of the defeated candidate are more likely to support the reigning Democrat.

Even if voters don’t like the winner’s policies as much as their preferred candidate, they’re likely to support the nominee in order to continue tipping the Supreme Court to the left. After all, three additional justices are 70 or older. Stephen Breyer is 77, Anthony Kennedy is 79, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 82.

We have had a long haul these last 15 years. Much social progress has been stalled.

But now that Scalia is out of the picture, the future looks bright.

Maybe things really will turn out alright. Maybe we’ll actually have a chance to build that better world we’ve all been dreaming about.

Rest in Peace, Scalia. The nation can’t wait to move on without you.

F is for Friedrichs… and Freeloader: A Supreme Court Nightmare

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Say you’re on an airplane flying high over the Rockies.

The plane is going down.

You need a parachute.

Luckily, before you took off, all the passengers got together and pooled their money to buy them.

There’s enough for everyone. We’re all going to make it out of this alive.

People line up at the doors getting ready to jump.

Right in front of you is a lady with a sour look on her face.

“I can’t believe they’re making us pay for these parachutes,” she says.

“Really?” you reply. “Don’t you want one?”

“Sure I do!” she says. “I just don’t think I should be forced to pay for it.”

You give her a look. You can’t help it.

“But how else can they buy the parachutes?” you say.

She puts her hands on her hips and says, “There are some people on other airplanes that don’t have parachutes. I don’t think it’s fair that I get a parachute when they don’t have one.”

“You could just leave your parachute here on the plane and jump without it,” you offer helpfully.

She makes a face looking down at the parachute she’s been provided. “Will you look at this?” she says. “Mine’s blue.”

“So what?” you say. “So is mine.”

“I hate blue. I don’t want my money going to buy blue parachutes.”

“Um. At least you’ll have a soft landing.”

“A soft BLUE landing without my Constitutional rights.”

Just then a hole breaks open in the back of the plane sending air whooshing through the cabin. Oxygen masks fall from the ceiling. The plane shudders back and forth before the hole is plugged and cabin pressure returns.

A man with a similar sour expression comes forward to both of you. He is wearing a military police uniform and has a whistle in his mouth. He blows it.

“Did I hear right!?” he bellows. “Is this woman being forced to pay for her parachute!?”

“Yes,” you say after a moment. “She wants one.”

They both look at you like a third arm is growing out of your forehead.

“That’s beside the point,” the military man spits. “She can’t be FORCED to pay for it!”

By this time, a woman makes her way to the three of you from the front of the plane. She is wearing a beret and an armband.

“What’s the problem back here?” she asks.

“The problem is that this woman is being forced to pay for her parachute!” the MP says.

“Do you want a parachute?” beret woman asks the sour jumper.

“Of course,” the woman says.

“Then why shouldn’t you pay for it?”

“Because it’s blue,” she says.

“Are you kidding me?” beret woman asks. “Of course it’s blue. We got those on sale. The only way we could afford parachutes for everyone was if we bought in bulk and bought blue.”

“I don’t care,” the jumper says. “I shouldn’t be forced to buy a blue parachute if I don’t want one.”

“But you DO want one,” you say.

“Not a blue one,” she responds.

“Just give it back,” you say.

“No,” she replies stubbornly.

“That’s it,” the MP says drawing his gun. “Both of you, give me your parachutes.”

“What!?” you say.

“You heard me, Flyboy!” he says opening a huge rucksack. “Everyone on this plane! Put your parachutes in this bag!”

Everyone groans but does as he commands. After all, he’s holding a gun.

“Now what?” the sour jumper says once all the parachutes have been collected.

“Now I’m going to return all of these to the store,” he says.

“Huh!?” you say.

“It’s the only fair thing to do. You’ll each have to come back to the store and pay for your own ‘chutes.”

“But we’re on a plane plummeting out of the sky!” you say.

He turns to the sour jumper. “You’re welcome,” he says. “My job here is done.”

You turn to beret lady. “Isn’t there something you can do?” you ask.

“I’m afraid not,” she says. “Even if we could go back to the store, we can’t afford to buy everyone a parachute unless everyone pitches in. And even then only the blue ones are on sale.”

The military man salutes and jumps out of the plane. After he falls an appreciable depth he pulls his own rip cord. You can see his parachute balloon open. It’s bright red.

You turn to beret girl. “Who was that guy?” you ask.

Air Marshal Alito,” she says before making her way back to the front of the plane.

The nose of the cabin dips down. The sound of rushing wind is intense.

You turn to the sour jumper. “Are you satisfied now?” you say. “We’re all going to die.”

She slumps to the ground. Her head falls off. She’s hollow. She was just a mannequin.

You sit back in your seat stunned.

You put on your belt.

“I don’t want to pay for any seat belts,” comes whining from the mannequin’s head rolling on the floor.

You kick it out of the plane.

And smile.

Before you crash.

And experience a fiery death.


 

Meanwhile on the ground, Air Marshall Alito is shaking a man’s hand. The man is from Wall Street. He just made a small fortune betting the plane would crash. His name is Koch.

He gives Alito a suitcase full of greenbacks. He turns to another man, the owner of Friedrichs’ Mannequin Manufacturing. He gives him another similar suitcase.

These suitcases contain just a fraction of the money Koch has won betting on the demise of the airplane passengers.

He is laughing.

On the suitcases it says, “Right to Fly.”

He laughs harder.

He laughs and laughs and laughs.

EPILOGUE:

You’re still dead.


 

MORALS:

Should workers be permitted to benefit from collective bargaining without paying union dues? No. Pay for what you get or turn down the benefit.

Is collective bargaining essentially political? No. It’s negotiating fair treatment. Ebay isn’t political. Neither is this.

Is Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association a trumped-up case tailor-made for the five conservative Supreme Court justices to overturn existing law simply because they wanna? HELL YEAH!


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NOTE: This article was featured on Diane Ravitch’s blog.