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Budowsky: Chief Justice Roberts can rescue democracy | TheHill

The people I can’t stand are those who strike a delicate balance between logic and absurdity and congratulate themselves for not being extreme.” – Thomas Sowell

Chief Justice John Roberts, who balances his logical decisions with absurd ones, added to the absurd half of his ledger with his refusal to issue a temporary stay on Pennsylvania’s violation of its own election laws. After all, it is only a closely contested swing state; one that could decide the presidential election.

Pennsylvania has decided to accept mail-in ballots as late as three days after Election day, without a legible postmark. This will give dishonest vote counters three days to determine how many votes they need to manufacture to get their desired outcome.

Pennsylvania law states that ballots must be in by 8:00 pm on Election Day and be properly postmarked. The State Supreme Court decided to ignore that law.

Pennsylvania Republicans (and only Republicans) petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a temporary stay against the decision by the Pennsylvania Court. A stay would have required five votes by SCOTUS. It got four. The Chief Justice voted “No” without explanation.

Chief Justice Roberts’ defenders say he maintains a “balance” to protect the reputation of the Supreme Court. Otherwise, people might think the court is “partisan.”

It is an interesting concept. Making bad decisions to protect your reputation. Lifetime tenure was supposed to prevent that.

Some say Roberts is afraid that the Democrats will pack the Court if he makes too many decisions against them. The Democrats are threatening to pack the court anyway, for reasons that have nothing to do with the Chief Justice. In other words, Chief, it didn’t work.

Also, when one strives to maintain a “balance” like that above, he or she will lose the trust of others. According to an article in National Review, neither the liberal nor the conservative Justices trust Mr. Roberts on second amendment issues, which is why they can’t muster the four votes necessary to hear a case.

The Supreme Court sat on the Pennsylvania petition for three weeks before rendering the decision. The internal discussions must have been frustrating for a sane person to hear.

When it comes to reputations, Chief Justice Roberts, there is no substitute for doing the right thing. Be bigger.

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  1. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    They are going to pack the court anyway, and then Roberts will go from Chief Justice to Chief Clown.

    • #1
    • October 21, 2020, at 9:47 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  2. Arahant Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    They are going to pack the court anyway, and then Roberts will go from Chief Justice to Chief Clown.

    “Will” go?

    • #2
    • October 21, 2020, at 9:58 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  3. Arahant Member

    BastiatJunior: “The people I can’t stand are those who strike a delicate balance between logic and absurdity and congratulate themselves for not being extreme.” – Thomas Sowell

    Has Thomas Sowell ever been wrong in this half of his life?


    This is the Quote of the Day. If you would like to share a quotation to educate, honor another, celebrate yourself, brag about your new acquisition, or just so you can rant, our sign-up sheet is here.

    Or, if you’re looking to write something a bit more creative, you might try our Group Writing Project this month: It was a dark and stormy night…

    • #3
    • October 21, 2020, at 10:06 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  4. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    They are going to pack the court anyway, and then Roberts will go from Chief Justice to Chief Clown.

    “Will” go?

    Right now, I believe he thinks what he is doing will preserve the dignity and prestige of the court. He’s going to end up in chambers with the likes of AOC. Since it can get worse, it will.

    • #4
    • October 21, 2020, at 10:06 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  5. Unsk Member

    One hell of a quote Bastiat Junior. ‘A real keeper. Describes our RINO Ruling class to a “T”.

    • #5
    • October 21, 2020, at 10:10 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  6. JoelB Member

    The quote made me laugh, but Roberts’ decision is no laughing matter. No ID, no postmark, no signature verification, no limits. Why not tie the Pennsylvania vote to the lottery? One vote for every ticket bought. Makes about as much sense.

    • #6
    • October 22, 2020, at 5:56 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  7. Stad Thatcher

    Once ACB is confirmed, Roberts will swing left. We’re still going to get a bunch of 5-4 decisions, but at least they’ll go our way most of the time . . .

    • #7
    • October 22, 2020, at 6:01 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  8. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    JoelB (View Comment):

    The quote made me laugh, but Roberts’ decision is no laughing matter. No ID, no postmark, no signature verification, no limits. Why not tie the Pennsylvania vote to the lottery? One vote for every ticket bought. Makes about as much sense.

    Are all the locations vending lottery tickets certified as Dead Person Accessible?

    • #8
    • October 22, 2020, at 6:07 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor

    How about voting on the merits of the case instead of playing politician and worrying about what anyone else will think?? Now that would be a novel idea for Roberts. He’s such a disappointment.

    • #9
    • October 22, 2020, at 6:30 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  10. Full Size Tabby Member

    I think Chief Justice Roberts is genuine in his stated desire to have the Court not appear political. Unfortunately, he seems to have particularly poor instincts as to what does and does not convey the appearance of being political, and so the effect of his efforts are opposite his intentions. His efforts to “depoliticize” the Court end up making the Court appear more political. With @susanquinn if he just decided the cases based on merit and worried less about how the decision will appear in a political sense, the reputation of the Court would be in better shape than it is today.

    • #10
    • October 22, 2020, at 7:05 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  11. Freeven Member
    FreevenJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    I think Chief Justice Roberts is genuine in his stated desire to have the Court not appear political. Unfortunately, he seems to have particularly poor instincts as to what does and does not convey the appearance of being political, and so the effect of his efforts are opposite his intentions. His efforts to “depoliticize” the Court end up making the Court appear more political. With @susanquinn if he just decided the cases based on merit and worried less about how the decision will appear in a political sense, the reputation of the Court would be in better shape than it is today.

    If this is indeed Roberts’ thinking, he’s outsmarting himself. It reminds me of when Bush-43 announced that we must abandon the free market in order to save it.

    • #11
    • October 22, 2020, at 9:14 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  12. Arahant Member

    Freeven (View Comment):
    If this is indeed Roberts’ thinking, he’s outsmarting himself.

    Not surprising.

    • #12
    • October 22, 2020, at 9:31 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  13. Valiuth Member
    ValiuthJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    How about voting on the merits of the case instead of playing politician and worrying about what anyone else will think?? Now that would be a novel idea for Roberts. He’s such a disappointment.

    And you think he didn’t because? What? You don’t like the ruling? 

    The issue of ballot acceptance happens to be a state issue. The Supreme Court of that state, interpreting that States constitution found that allowing this action to be legal. Certainly, other states accept ballots later than election day so the practice itself isn’t outlandish or unprecedented in this country. The question I would like answered by all you fine legal scholars is what deeper insight would the Supreme Court of the US have into this matter that the Pennsylvania court did not? Whose rights have they violated by exercise of State power that requires bringing the constitutional hammer down on them? Convince me this isn’t just a partisan talking point but some real principle at play.

    What I see here is four biased Republican Judges voting for the action their “team” endorses, three biased Democrat Judges voting for the action their “team” endorses, and justice Roberts flipping a coin. This is as good and complete an interpretation of the facts as anything else. 

    I see little to no evidence from either side of the judicial divide of anything approaching objectivity and ruling on the merits, just a bunch of different forms of post hoc rationalization for preferred outcomes. And in this way Roberts might in fact be the more neutral judge on the court right now, because he sees the game for what it is, and is always willing to hack that baby up into as many pieces as it takes to make sure no one is satisfied or left without some severed baby part to hoist up as a trophy. Roberts giveth and he taketh away. So yah he cares what people will think of the decision, but so do the other 7 justices. It is just that Roberts cares what everyone thinks and the rest are just playing to their political partisans. 

    Roberts is a lonely man doing a thankless task. 

    • #13
    • October 22, 2020, at 12:04 PM PDT
    • Like
  14. WI Con Member
    WI ConJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    How about voting on the merits of the case instead of playing politician and worrying about what anyone else will think?? Now that would be a novel idea for Roberts. He’s such a disappointment.

    And you think he didn’t because? What? You don’t like the ruling?

    The issue of ballot acceptance happens to be a state issue. The Supreme Court of that state, interpreting that States constitution found that allowing this action to be legal. Certainly, other states accept ballots later than election day so the practice itself isn’t outlandish or unprecedented in this country. The question I would like answered by all you fine legal scholars is what deeper insight would the Supreme Court of the US have into this matter that the Pennsylvania court did not? Whose rights have they violated by exercise of State power that requires bringing the constitutional hammer down on them? Convince me this isn’t just a partisan talking point but some real principle at play.

    What I see here is four biased Republican Judges voting for the action their “team” endorses, three biased Democrat Judges voting for the action their “team” endorses, and justice Roberts flipping a coin. This is as good and complete an interpretation of the facts as anything else.

    I see little to no evidence from either side of the judicial divide of anything approaching objectivity and ruling on the merits, just a bunch of different forms of post hoc rationalization for preferred outcomes. And in this way Roberts might in fact be the more neutral judge on the court right now, because he sees the game for what it is, and is always willing to hack that baby up into as many pieces as it takes to make sure no one is satisfied or left without some severed baby part to hoist up as a trophy. Roberts giveth and he taketh away. So yah he cares what people will think of the decision, but so do the other 7 justices. It is just that Roberts cares what everyone thinks and the rest are just playing to their political partisans.

    Roberts is a lonely man doing a thankless task.

    The State Legislatures (not the courts, not the city/county clerks or election commissions – the State Legislatures). 

    Constitutions works if you read it and don’t make crap up.

    • #14
    • October 22, 2020, at 12:29 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  15. TomRoberts57 Coolidge

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    How about voting on the merits of the case instead of playing politician and worrying about what anyone else will think?? Now that would be a novel idea for Roberts. He’s such a disappointment.

    And you think he didn’t because? What? You don’t like the ruling?

    The issue of ballot acceptance happens to be a state issue. The Supreme Court of that state, interpreting that States constitution found that allowing this action to be legal. Certainly, other states accept ballots later than election day so the practice itself isn’t outlandish or unprecedented in this country. The question I would like answered by all you fine legal scholars is what deeper insight would the Supreme Court of the US have into this matter that the Pennsylvania court did not? Whose rights have they violated by exercise of State power that requires bringing the constitutional hammer down on them? Convince me this isn’t just a partisan talking point but some real principle at play.

    What I see here is four biased Republican Judges voting for the action their “team” endorses, three biased Democrat Judges voting for the action their “team” endorses, and justice Roberts flipping a coin. This is as good and complete an interpretation of the facts as anything else.

    I see little to no evidence from either side of the judicial divide of anything approaching objectivity and ruling on the merits, just a bunch of different forms of post hoc rationalization for preferred outcomes. And in this way Roberts might in fact be the more neutral judge on the court right now, because he sees the game for what it is, and is always willing to hack that baby up into as many pieces as it takes to make sure no one is satisfied or left without some severed baby part to hoist up as a trophy. Roberts giveth and he taketh away. So yah he cares what people will think of the decision, but so do the other 7 justices. It is just that Roberts cares what everyone thinks and the rest are just playing to their political partisans.

    Roberts is a lonely man doing a thankless task.

    The Pennsylvania Supreme Court currently consists of 5 Democrats and 2 Republicans. You could just as easily argue that overturning their decision would be the neutral position.

    • #15
    • October 22, 2020, at 12:54 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  16. BastiatJunior Member
    BastiatJunior

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    The issue of ballot acceptance happens to be a state issue. The Supreme Court of that state, interpreting that States constitution found that allowing this action to be legal. Certainly, other states accept ballots later than election day so the practice itself isn’t outlandish or unprecedented in this country. The question I would like answered by all you fine legal scholars is what deeper insight would the Supreme Court of the US have into this matter that the Pennsylvania court did not? Whose rights have they violated by exercise of State power that requires bringing the constitutional hammer down on them? Convince me this isn’t just a partisan talking point but some real principle at play.

    The Supreme Court has overruled State Courts in the past. By the above reasoning, such overruling could never happen.

    In this case, the State Supreme Court violated a clearly written law in a case where there is a national interest. If it only impacted the people of Pennsylvania, there would be no need to involve the US Supreme Court a less compelling need to involve the Supreme Court. In other cases, even without a national interest, the Supreme Court can intervene if the US constitution is being violated.

    • #16
    • October 22, 2020, at 1:25 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  17. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk andJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    BastiatJunior: “The people I can’t stand are those who strike a delicate balance between logic and absurdity and congratulate themselves for not being extreme.” – Thomas Sowell

    Hmm. Logic’s only useful if you’ve got robust axioms to work with. Otherwise, you might as well let your freak flag fly.

    ;-)

    • #17
    • October 22, 2020, at 2:00 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  18. BastiatJunior Member
    BastiatJunior

    Misthiocracy got drunk and (View Comment):

    BastiatJunior: “The people I can’t stand are those who strike a delicate balance between logic and absurdity and congratulate themselves for not being extreme.” – Thomas Sowell

    Hmm. Logic’s only useful if you’ve got robust axioms to work with. Otherwise, you might as well let your freak flag fly.

    ;-)

    That was mighty sober of you, Misthiocracy got drunk and.

    • #18
    • October 22, 2020, at 2:30 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  19. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHillJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Roberts is America’s Clement Attlee, who Churchill described as “a sheep… in sheep’s clothing.” 

    On the way to Fulton, Mo for his infamous “Iron Curtain” speech with Harry Truman, the President remarked, “Clement Attlee came to see me the other day. He struck me as a very modest man.”

    Churchill replies, “He has much to be modest about.”

     

     

    • #19
    • October 22, 2020, at 4:10 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  20. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    JoelB (View Comment):

    The quote made me laugh, but Roberts’ decision is no laughing matter. No ID, no postmark, no signature verification, no limits. Why not tie the Pennsylvania vote to the lottery? One vote for every ticket bought. Makes about as much sense.

    The Trump campaign and the DOJ need to bring this case back up the day the Courageous AOC is confirmed and sworn in (next Monday). Make Roberts a clearly irrelevant member of the party of Government wing of the Supreme Court. Make it all about real equal protection and real election security.

    • #20
    • October 22, 2020, at 5:54 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. Arahant Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    Courageous AOC

    ACB.

    • #21
    • October 22, 2020, at 6:02 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  22. TBA Coolidge

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    Courageous AOC

    ACB.

    AOC won’t be confirmed to SCOTUS for at least another decade. 

    • #22
    • October 22, 2020, at 6:06 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  23. Manny Member

    I love that quote by the great Thomas Sowell. And you’ve got the perfect poster-boy for it. What a disappointment Roberts is, appointed by a president who did not really believe in conservatism. He faked it. Spot on.

    • #23
    • October 22, 2020, at 7:33 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  24. J Climacus Member

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    I see little to no evidence from either side of the judicial divide of anything approaching objectivity and ruling on the merits, just a bunch of different forms of post hoc rationalization for preferred outcomes. And in this way Roberts might in fact be the more neutral judge on the court right now, because he sees the game for what it is, and is always willing to hack that baby up into as many pieces as it takes to make sure no one is satisfied or left without some severed baby part to hoist up as a trophy. Roberts giveth and he taketh away. So yah he cares what people will think of the decision, but so do the other 7 justices. It is just that Roberts cares what everyone thinks and the rest are just playing to their political partisans.

    Roberts is a lonely man doing a thankless task.

    The conservatives on the court, like Thomas and Alito, only appear partisan because their clearly stated judicial philosophy – articulated before they came to the Supreme Court – results in predictable decisions in these days of gross overreach by legislatures and courts. Just like you can predict that a football referee will throw a lot of flags against a team that consistently holds, you can predict that an originalist judge will rule against efforts to “reinterpret” the Constitution in novel ways. That’s philosophy at work, not prejudice.

    Your defense of Roberts doesn’t pay him much of a compliment. You admit that he is not making decisions on the judicial merits, but is pursuing a self-appointed role as political mediator doling out political favors to both right and left in some sort of ill-conceived “balancing” act. He’s doing exactly what Thomas Sowell identifies: He knows the right answer and the wrong answer, but picks an answer in the middle as somehow superior because it is “neutral.” If this task is thankless it is because it should be, being evidence of an inflated sense of self-regard that results in idiocy.

    • #24
    • October 23, 2020, at 5:05 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  25. philo Member

    J Climacus (View Comment): …being evidence of an inflated sense of self-regard that results in idiocy.

    [emphasis added]

    Both have been on full display since he puked this little gem of condescending BS into our lives:

    In this instance, the context and structure of the Act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.

    (P.S. This legacy alone is reason enough for GWB to keep he mouth tightly shut on all things political for the rest of his days out of sheer embarrassment.)

    • #25
    • October 23, 2020, at 5:59 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  26. James Gawron Thatcher
    James GawronJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bastiat,

    Very good post. This reminds one of the Churchill quote about Munich.

    “Churchill says the government had to choose between war and shame. They chose shame. They will get war too.”

    Roberts is a fool. This isn’t a humble man making tough decisions for the good of the country. This is a mediocre man with an inflated ego selling his country out for the illusion of a profundity that he does not possess.

    Regards,

    Jim 

    • #26
    • October 23, 2020, at 6:27 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  27. BastiatJunior Member
    BastiatJunior

    Well, after last night’s debate, the vote manufacturers in Pennsylvania will have to work a little harder.

     

    • #27
    • October 23, 2020, at 6:41 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. Valiuth Member
    ValiuthJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    TomRoberts57 (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    How about voting on the merits of the case instead of playing politician and worrying about what anyone else will think?? Now that would be a novel idea for Roberts. He’s such a disappointment.

    And you think he didn’t because? What? You don’t like the ruling?

    The issue of ballot acceptance happens to be a state issue. The Supreme Court of that state, interpreting that States constitution found that allowing this action to be legal. Certainly, other states accept ballots later than election day so the practice itself isn’t outlandish or unprecedented in this country. The question I would like answered by all you fine legal scholars is what deeper insight would the Supreme Court of the US have into this matter that the Pennsylvania court did not? Whose rights have they violated by exercise of State power that requires bringing the constitutional hammer down on them? Convince me this isn’t just a partisan talking point but some real principle at play.

    What I see here is four biased Republican Judges voting for the action their “team” endorses, three biased Democrat Judges voting for the action their “team” endorses, and justice Roberts flipping a coin. This is as good and complete an interpretation of the facts as anything else.

    I see little to no evidence from either side of the judicial divide of anything approaching objectivity and ruling on the merits, just a bunch of different forms of post hoc rationalization for preferred outcomes. And in this way Roberts might in fact be the more neutral judge on the court right now, because he sees the game for what it is, and is always willing to hack that baby up into as many pieces as it takes to make sure no one is satisfied or left without some severed baby part to hoist up as a trophy. Roberts giveth and he taketh away. So yah he cares what people will think of the decision, but so do the other 7 justices. It is just that Roberts cares what everyone thinks and the rest are just playing to their political partisans.

    Roberts is a lonely man doing a thankless task.

    The Pennsylvania Supreme Court currently consists of 5 Democrats and 2 Republicans. You could just as easily argue that overturning their decision would be the neutral position.

    You could, because none of the argument have any objectivity to them, because the interpretation of the law is a purely subjective and therefor ultimately political action. We are just making this [expletive] up as we go along. That is the Common Law way. 

    • #28
    • October 23, 2020, at 7:05 AM PDT
    • Like
  29. BastiatJunior Member
    BastiatJunior

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    You could, because none of the argument have any objectivity to them, because the interpretation of the law is a purely subjective and therefor ultimately political action. We are just making this [expletive] up as we go along. That is the Common Law way.

    There is nothing subjective about a law that clearly sets a deadline.

    If all interpretations of the law are subjective, why write them on paper in the first place? Why have an appeals process?

    • #29
    • October 23, 2020, at 7:12 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  30. Valiuth Member
    ValiuthJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    BastiatJunior (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    The issue of ballot acceptance happens to be a state issue. The Supreme Court of that state, interpreting that States constitution found that allowing this action to be legal. Certainly, other states accept ballots later than election day so the practice itself isn’t outlandish or unprecedented in this country. The question I would like answered by all you fine legal scholars is what deeper insight would the Supreme Court of the US have into this matter that the Pennsylvania court did not? Whose rights have they violated by exercise of State power that requires bringing the constitutional hammer down on them? Convince me this isn’t just a partisan talking point but some real principle at play.

    The Supreme Court has overruled State Courts in the past. By the above reasoning, such overruling could never happen.

    In this case, the State Supreme Court violated a clearly written law in a case where there is a national interest. If it only impacted the people of Pennsylvania, there would be no need to involve the US Supreme Court a less compelling need to involve the Supreme Court. In other cases, even without a national interest, the Supreme Court can intervene if the US constitution is being violated.

    So the Supreme Court of PA gave no reasoning for their ruling? They cited no section of state law or constitution? They simply declared we are supreme and ex nihilo made up a new law? I doubt that… there is always some precedent or law to cite and one way or another. They have as many facts as you do to support their case, and so it all comes down to interpretation which is an exercise in personal preference outside of a objective scientific reality. And since no fundamental law of the universe governs legal interpretation it is all Calvinball. At best it is judicious and moderate act of political control seeking to maintain social harmony and instill in people a sense of fairness and satisfaction at the outcome. Judges will rule based on what they think is right and what they think they can get away with. Liberal, Conservative, Originalist, Living Constitutionalist, Textualist… whatever. Its all made up and subject to human whim. The best it can be is consistent, and even then consistency is no better a marker of correctness (whatever that means). 

    • #30
    • October 23, 2020, at 7:12 AM PDT
    • Like