A funny thing happens to some right-wing judges when they reach the Supreme Court. They begin to turn left.
The purpose of government is to benefit the public. To accomplish this, governments create laws can punish or reward.
The Republicans and Democrats tend to take opposite approaches, with Republicans most often opting for punishment and Democrats most often opting for reward.
Today’s conservatives derogate anyone displaying compassion for the powerless to be a “snowflake.”
Trump and his GOP are especially cold of heart, relying almost exclusively on punishment when dealing with the general public, though the rich are rewarded.
When judged by the Robert Hare Checklist of Psychopathy Symptoms, Trump is a proven psychopath.
Look at Trump’s many thousands of tweets, and you will be hard-pressed to find any that are compassionate, except when directed at himself.
Virtually all Trump’s tweets are cruel, hateful, or self-congratulatory. There is not an ounce of empathy, compassion, or kindness in the man.
The sheep-like GOP follows his lead almost 100%.
I. The White House and congressional Republicans are considering restricting the next round of coronavirus relief checks to hold down the cost of the stimulus package.
Congress in March approved $1,200 payments to individuals, with the benefit shrinking or disappearing for those who made more than $75,000 in 2019.
Some conservatives have argued against sending out the second round of checks at all.
II. California is suing the Trump administration over its decision to send home international students enrolled in colleges that decide to offer only online classes this fall due to the coronavirus crisis.
The lawsuit asks the Court to block the administration from enforcing the new visa policy.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement said earlier in the week that students on F-1 and M-1 visas at schools that don’t offer in-person classes have to leave or transfer to a school that does, because technically, the visas are not intended for students attending online classes only.
Becerra called the policy “morally reprehensible,” saying it forced students to choose between infection and deportation.
III. Let the Predation Begin! CFPB Rolls Back Obama-Era Payday Loan Protections
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau freed itself of an Obama-era reform, that of requiring the lenders to verify whether presumably-desperate borrowers had any capacity to pay these loans back.
Does having someone take a loan at what is often a 400% interest rate not constitute taking “unreasonable advantage” of the borrower’s lack of mathematical savvy and/or desperation?
The now-dead rule had required lenders to verify monthly net income, debt payments, and housing costs plus basic living expenses to determine a debt-to-income ratio.
That would seem to be Prudent Lending 101 but the industry would have none of it.
Remember, the GOP is the party that for years has tried to eliminate Obamacare, yet during all those years, never has been willing to create a replacement for the poor and for those with pre-existing conditions.
The liberals wish to protect the populace by helping each person to receive food, healthcare, housing, and education. It was the left that created Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, poverty aids, the current food stamp program, and the equal rights laws.
The conservatives wish to protect the populace by helping each person to create a wall of unlimited guns and bullets.
When the GOP can appoint a Justice to the Supreme Court, they look for a punitive type who neither understands, nor wishes to understand, that laws affect real human beings, often disastrously.
They appoint someone like an Antonin Scalia or a Clarence Thomas.
Scalia coldly viewed the law as mere words on paper, to be judged solely on technical criteria. He kept the law and the people it affected in separate mental compartments, the latter not to be considered at all.
His belief was that the law says what it says, and it was not in his province to evaluate its human effects. That was left to the original Constitution’s framers, Congress, and the President.
Thomas is a mini, less capable, version of Scalia. He entered the Supreme Court on a lie, and he has since devoted his career to proving he is neither black nor has any compassion for blacks or those less fortunate.
He is a robotic judge, lacking feelings or humanity, while taking pride in his dispassionate deliverance of icy law.
Surprisingly often, however, upon reaching the SCOTUS, formerly hard-hearted conservative judges discover two things:
- Laws have a profound effect on the lives of human beings
- History remembers far more favorably, those judges who had compassion, as opposed to callous deliverers of judicial interpretations.
Earl Warren, appointed by GOP President Dwight Eisenhower, exercised powerful liberal leadership on civil rights and civil liberties. He widely is considered to have been one of the all-time best Chief Justices.
Another Eisenhower appointee, William Brennan distinguished himself as a great liberal supporter of the common folk and women’s rights.
GOP President Richard Nixon appointed Harry Blackmun who wrote the majority opinion for the liberal-supported Roe V. Wade.
GOP President Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor, supposedly a conservative, but quite often voting with the liberals.
GOP President Gerald Ford appointed Justice John Paul Stevens, who became liberal during his long term on the Court.
GOP President George H. W. Bush chose David Souter, who turned out consistently to support liberal opinions.
On balance, those justices who began as liberals, or who became liberal during their tenure, are among the most highly regarded by history. They are the ones who understood the purpose of law is to protect those human beings who most need protection, a feeling not shared by conservatives.
All of the above brings us to the current Court. Chief Justice Roberts, appointed by GOP President George W. Bush, clearly was looking toward his legacy when he saved Obamacare from the lockstep Trump conservatives who pitilessly would have destroyed healthcare for those who would otherwise be unable to obtain it.
He voted against an abortion law that would have made abortion almost impossible for the millions of women in Louisiana.
Roberts’s vote prevented Trump from cruelly and needlessly deporting thousands of innocent DACA children, most of whom have known no country other than America.
Roberts supported federal civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Americans.
And most recently he, along with GOP appointees Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch opined that even a right-wing President, Donald Trump, is not above the law, and must respond to subpoenas for his tax returns.
The legacies of cold, automaton Justices diminishes over time, while the memories of compassionate arbiters brighten.
And it is possible that Justices, being human and having families and friends, begin over time, to empathize with those afflicted by adverse legal decisions, and carry that empathy with them in their decisions.
Age often brings with it a softening of the heath and a clearing of the head.
History tends to reward love more than hatred.