Howard Zinn Warned Us About the Supreme Court
These are the facts. The Senate majority, which the Republican Party currently holds with 51 seats, presently represents 18 percent of the country’s population. Following Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, four of the Supreme Court’s nine justices have been appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote. Two of those justices attended the same D.C.-area prep school.
If the United States government faces a legitimacy crisis, it’s one that has been building for 18 years, if not longer than that. In 2000’s Bush v. Gore decision, five conservative justices determined that Florida could not conduct a recount of its heavily disputed election results—a decision that effectively handed the presidency to the Republican candidate. “Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear,” John Paul Stevens, who was appointed by Gerald Ford, wrote in his dissent. “It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.”
The naked politicization of the judiciary did not escape historian Howard Zinn. In 2005, after another former member of the Federalist Society, John Roberts, became the 17th chief justice of the United States, the activist and professor issued a warning to progressives about the power of the high court—one they might be wise to revisit on the heels of Kavanaugh’s ascension.
“It would be naive to depend on the Supreme Court to defend the rights of poor people, women, people of color, dissenters of all kinds,” he wrote. “Those rights only come alive when citizens organize, protest, demonstrate, strike, boycott, rebel, and violate the law in order to uphold justice.”
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