The following is a lightly edited transcript of remarks made by Ellis Henican during a Newsweek debate about SCOTUS ethics. You can listen to the podcast here:
The Supreme Court is a mess, and this is completely symbolic and emblematic of it. They were supposed to be the great neutral arbiter, the wise people, interpreting the law from on high. Now it just turned into another political committee, and that it just depends on who’s got the votes. Part of the reason is that the kind of people who have been appointed lately are just political animals who are on one team or the other team. They don’t care what the law says, they know what team they’re on. And nobody is worse at that than Clarence Thomas and his billionaire vacation pal who keeps lavishing him and his wife with all these fancy vacations. It sucks. It’s stinky. Everybody understands it’s a horrible situation.
It seems to me that many on the right have given up on the wonderful philosophy that I grew up with about the Supreme Court, which is that it’s above politics. It’s the great legal minds reflecting on the Constitution. That’s a lot of crap. What it is now is just another congressional committee. Don’t give up on the idea of the court being impartial wise men arbitrating the great issues of our time. Don’t sell out to the idea that it ought to just be another political meaning. Because once you do that, then you’ve lost the majesty of the court.
Ellis Henican is a New York Times-bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.