Who Will Be Our Next Unelected Arbiter-for-Life?

Photo by Supermac1961 | CC BY 2.0

Many say the resignation of Justice Kennedy represents a ‘threat to democracy’ because Trump will no doubt appoint someone keen to serve his authoritarian bent. But a democracy that can be threatened or even “destroyed” by the resignation of one unelected official (with a lifelong term) and the appointment of another unelected official (with a lifelong term) by an ‘elected’ official who didn’t even receive the majority of votes is a strange kind of democracy, isn’t it? Does that really sound like a strong and vigorous system for ensuring that the democratic will of the citizenry is properly and securely addressed? Why do we have a system where a defeated candidate can take the highest office in the land, then wield the power of making lifelong appointments to an unelected body which holds the ultimate sway over our public (and personal) life? What kind of democracy or republic do we have when someone who was not actually the choice of the majority of voters can re-shape the nation in a fundamental way, for generations to come, by making a few appointments to an unelected panel?

Yes, it is disastrous that Trump will get another Supreme Court appointee. Although it’s also true that Justice Kennedy, as the deciding swing vote on the court, has already done a great deal to “destroy democracy” with many of his votes, especially in the Citizens United case, in which he and the other conservative justices opened the door…

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