America’s political divide now envelops the United States Supreme Court. For example, when the Court decides that the billionaire Koch brothers can buy elections, its ruling is perceived as conservative. Democrats stop smoking weed long enough to get furious. MSNBC’s ratings even crack the top 300 for a day.
But when the Court, say, rules that “required health insurance” is just another name for “tax”, and therefore Obamacare is legal, its decision is viewed as liberal. Republicans smash their martini glasses with five-irons. On the radio, Rush spends an entire show mocking the judiciary. (Interestingly, judge-bashing really sells the virility treatments advertised on Limbaugh’s program. Otherwise, that stuff only moves when Rush lambastes Hillary, which is the conventional way of arousing a dittohead.)
Some of the Supreme Court’s upcoming decisions will be controversial. Now’s a good time to remind ourselves that, in reality, judges are impartial. They decide cases solely based on the law. Their political views play no part in how they rule.
So what has caused Americans’ mistaken belief that Supreme Court decisions are political? It all comes down to vocabulary.
Unlike the decisions of Judge Milian on the People’s Court, high court rulings are written. And they are full of obscure legal verbiage.
Americans don’t understand judicial gobbledygook. Consequently, we don’t read Supreme Court decisions. Instead, we rely on experts to interpret the rulings for us. Because these “experts” have political agendas, they try to convince us that the Court takes sides in political controversies. In the trade, this is known as “freaking the freaking lazy base out so they’ll freaking show up at the freaking polls.”
Americans need to learn the truth about our judiciary. This means that we need to start reading Supreme Court decisions for ourselves. I am providing definitions for all key legal terms below. Know these words, and you’ll be able to understand any ruling:
- Habeas Corpus: Latin for “why has this guy been in Baltimore city jail for 12 years on a parking ticket?”
- Indictment: A formal charge against any Democratic senator who opposes Obama’s policy on Iran and Cuba.
- Stop and Frisk: The security check that all Court spectators endure before being seated.
- Hourly Rate: The amount a Supreme Court lawyer charges for 25 minutes of work.
- Justice (of the Supreme Court): A judge on the Court. To get appointed, a justice must be a paid-up member of the Harvard, Yale, or Columbia Alumni Societies, be friends with a senator, and belong to an ethnic group that voted for the president in the last election.
- Chief Justice: The justice who sits front-row-center for Court photographs.
- Constitution: A Rorschach (ink blot) test the justices use to decide cases. Each justice sees what he or she wants to.
- Law Clerk: An Ivy League law school graduate. Works for a justice. Must be expert in medieval punctuation patterns.
- Opinion: A written discussion of a case. Credited to a justice. Ghost-written by law clerks.
- Majority Opinion: An opinion by the justices who the winning party thinks are smart.
- Minority Opinion: An opinion by the justices who the losing party thinks are smart.
- Concurrence: An opinion by a justice who couldn’t make up their mind.
- Dissent: An opinion by a justice who offended boss Justice Anthony Kennedy.
- Recess: A 10 minute break during a court session. A recess is called when Justice Ginsberg, who just turned 82, wakes up from her siesta. The recess allows her to review the other justices’ notes.
- Reverse: What the Court does to a ruling in favor of a litigant stupid enough to hire an attorney the justices never met at a D.C. cocktail party.
- Affirm: A group of lawyers who share a conference room.
- Solicitor General: The lawyer who represents the federal government before the Court. She defends all laws that the president likes.
Now that you know the lingo, find a Court ruling you hate, and read it. It will be obvious that politics played no part. And the next time you hear some party operative whining that the Court is too political, you’ll know who not to freaking vote for.