27 June 2018

Conservatives are Just Obsolete Liberals (The Supreme Court We Will Have for the Next Generation)

In this week's decision to support the president's immigration ban on 7 countries, Chief Justice John Roberts ruled that the Supreme Court's 1944 ruling upholding FDR's internment camps for Japanese Americans - Korematsu vs. United States - "was gravely wrong the day it was decided." It didn't seem that way at the time, of course, but 74 years later it seems obvious. This is how progress works.

About Trump's immigration ban. Trump made it clear that he wanted to ban Muslims. The minority position was that his tailoring the words in the ban to make his religious discrimination less obvious was irrelevant: this was still religious discrimination and thus unconstitutional. The majority ruled that the president has this kind of power and that his previous words about this being a religious ban didn't matter.

Two things about this.

One, with Kennedy's retirement due soon, the Supreme Court will be dominated by conservatives for probably the next quarter of a century. Kennedy was a swing vote and Trump will surely replace him with someone very conservative. Through roughly 2040 - at least - we will get Republican decisions from the court. This seems inevitable to me. So we may as well get used to this. It will likely be going on until I die.

Two, conservatives do eventually come around. Conservatives did not believe in religious freedom. At first. Now they do. Conservatives did not believe that the power of kings should be usurped by representative legislatures and democratically elected executives. Now they do. Conservatives believed that the race of American citizens (the Japanese interned in camps, for instance) was sufficient reason to imprison them. Now - 74 years later - they don't.

Conservatives have the same beliefs as liberals. They just hold them for one to three generations longer. So, even this conservative (and soon to be even more conservative) Supreme Court will eventually catch up with the times. It is rather stupid to have rotary dial phones when you can have touch pad or touch pad phones when you can cellular flip phones or cellular flip phones when you can have smart phones but at least Americans will eventually get the latest policy .... about a generation or two later than it is available.

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