“[T]he macho allure of Mr. Trump is undeniable. He is forceful, wealthy and, most important, unapologetic. …
“They liked his strong style, his apparent confidence in his own opinions.”
I can’t help but be reminded of Carlyle’s portrait of Robespierre: “Of incorruptible Robespierre it was long ago predicted that he might go far, mean meagre mortal though he was; for Doubt dwelt not in him.”
Paul Krugman in the NYT: “You might think that Republicans would set the plutocratic imperative aside when the case for more government spending is compelling, whether it’s to repair our crumbling infrastructure or to provide relief during a pandemic. But all indications are that they believe — probably rightly — that successful government programs make the public more receptive to proposals for additional programs.
“That’s why the G.O.P. has tried so frantically to overturn the Affordable Care Act; at this point it’s clear that Obamacare’s success in cutting the number of uninsured Americans has created an appetite for further health care reform.
“And that’s why Republicans are unwilling to provide desperately needed aid to economic victims of the pandemic. They aren’t worried that a relief package would fail; they’re worried that it might succeed, showing that sometimes more government spending is a good thing. Indeed, a successful relief package might pave the way for Democratic proposals that would, among other things, drastically reduce child poverty.”
Or maybe they hope to spread it to some of their Democratic colleagues?
Basically, demographic changes are making it impossible for the Republicans to win majorities at the ballot box so they’re doing everything they can to hold back the tide and resist majority rule. But sooner or later, the young’uns won’t put up with it.
Noted constitutional scholar Edwin Chemerinsky recommends enlarging the Supreme Court if the Republicans push through a replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He suggests thirteen justices as an appropriate size. Others have also proposed packing the court. Others argue that this is a terrible idea that would destroy the independence of the judiciary.
I’d like to suggest an alternative that’s less drastic but could accomplish the same thing (at least in the short term) with less damage to the judiciary as an institution: senior status. Under current law, when federal judges reach the age of 65 and the sum of their age and number of years on the bench is 80 or more, they can take senior status. They keep their salary and they continue to hear a reduced number of cases. Supreme Court Justices who take senior status no longer hear SCOTUS cases but continue to serve on Court of Appeals panels. David Souter continues to hear First Circuit cases and Sandra Day O’Connor only stopped hearing cases a few years ago (dementia). Why not allow retired justices to continue to sit on SCOTUS cases as they wish? They would no longer deal with cert petitions or serve as circuit justices (which should greatly reduce their workload). I imagine that Breyer would take senior status and continue to hear cases along with his replacement. Justice Sotomayor is also eligible for senior status. Perhaps Justices Souter and/or Kennedy would decide to come back for some cases. Right now, senior judges are assigned to cases by the Chief Justice. Obviously, that wouldn’t do. So I propose that once the Supreme Court grants cert to a case, senior justices would have, say, fifteen days to inform the court that they will be participating in that case. The result would be to blunt the conservative’s current edge on the court without invoking quite the controversy that packing the court would.