Commentary on current events, politics, government, and popular culture from John Sheirer, author of the book, Make Common Sense Common Again.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Justice Antonin Scalia, a Shining Beacon for Slackers Everywhere

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia complained last week about reading the Affordable Care Act, stating directly that he didn't plan to read it and derisively invoking the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution banning "cruel and unusual punishment." 

Get it? Reading is punishment. Ha, ha. That might be funny coming from a third grader who doesn't know any better, but a Supreme Court Justice? Not exactly "supreme."

Scalia's comments sound more like something we'd hear from a dropout who would rather party or play video games than crack open a textbook. He reminds me of the guy who sneaks off to the far corner of the warehouse to take a nap on company time rather than unload that truck backed up to the loading dock. 

Sure the Afordable Care Act is long. But Scalia is a grown man with a law degree from Harvard, an extensive staff, and all the resources of the United States Supreme Court at his disposal. He's not some ten-year-old telling his Mommy that he wants to play instead or doing his homework. Reading the Affordable Care Act is his job. If he's not up to that job, he should retire.

When Justice Elena Kagan suggested that Scalia's law clerks could easily read the bill, Scalia replied, "I don't care whether it's easy for my clerks, I care whether it's easy for me."

Scalia isn't exactly the kind of role model young people in American need. Here we have a Supreme Court Justice who whines about how hard it is to do his required reading and who brags about being too lazy to do his job effectively. How can one of the nine people deciding the most important legal cases in our nation think, talk, and behave this way on the bench? It must be nice to have a lifetime appointment with no consequences for being blatantly terrible at your job.

Scalia has been parroting right-wing talking points about the Affordable Care Act rather than even bothering to give the appearance of impartiality. Scalia has even appeared at fundraisers (with fellow conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas) for the anti-health-care-reform Koch brothers, which is a clear conflict of interest that should have led to both judges recusing themselves from this case. So Scalia's ruling in this case is hardly in doubt. Partisanship will guide him far more than actual judicial thought.

Scalia is a case-study example of the current Republican Party, the party that used to be known for emphasizing personal responsibility--which is the core concept of the health-care reform mandate opposed by Republicans and currently being debated by the Supreme Court. Today's G.O.P. has evolved into the party of complaints, laziness, and ethical conflict.


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