Professor Antonin Scalia: Judicial Independence 101

In the midst of the gloom expressed over the continued moribund state of the American economy, it heartened yer obedient scribe to see that even a 76 year old, life appointed US Supreme Court justice can rock his inner capitalist and push publishing royalties with the best of them. Hollywood celeb tell-alls, the Harry Potter franchise, Da Vinci Code hilarity, and (forthcoming) the wit and wisdom of Nancy Grace, certain contender for the world’s thinnest book award – step aside! Justice Antonio Scalia is flogging his wares this summer to excited throngs on the national publishing circuit. Showtime!

Justice Scalia, trending now

And what a show it is. Tradition has it that the jurists charged with the ultimate responsibility for liberal democratic justice are a touch circumspect about their work. Impartiality is their sine qua non, the jealous mistress / dominatrix that ensures that one or more of the Nine are not inclined to run their mouth on national issues when they have sworn to hear all cases with dispassionate rigor. But like the girl with the curl, “when good, she’s very good, and when she’s bad, she’s awful”, the good judge and fervent Old School, “here’s what our founders said in 1787, and it still plays today, peeps”, all round big legal thinker has a message for America – Obamacare bites, and here’s why!

The gentle judge, in the midst of several ‘go suck eggs, Mr. President’ media screeds in recent weeks, decided that being in the (unexpected) minority in the recent Supremes’ Medicare ruling gives the great man the right to tell the world just how dumb the majority members of his Court really are on this pivotal national question. Where Chief Justice Roberts and his merry band found the ‘individual mandate’ central to new Medicare “may reasonably be characterized as a tax” and thus within Congressional taxation power, Justice Scalia took pains to explain the failings of his boneheaded fellow bench jockeys. “There is no way to regard this penalty as a tax …you don’t interpret a penalty to be a pig. It can’t be a pig”….and other media gems.

Not content to break the otherwise sensible Court code of silence, big Tony rolled over the President’s plainly dimwitted views on healthcare law with the subtlety and finesse of an assault rifle barrage (legal in many states, thanks to a 2008 USSC ruling authored by – guess who?): “What can he do to me? Or to any of us? We have life tenure and we have it precisely so that we will not be influenced by politics, by threats from anybody.” A judicial ‘screw you’, and maybe the life tenured Tony might sell a few more books in the bargain.

Justice Scalia is absolutely right on this one, consistent with a long legal career that gives ‘conservative’ its fullest possible meaning. He is not merely influenced by politics – he lives it, breathes it, and excretes it from every pore – because, my Stateside friends, no job in the world is more political than his. And if he makes a buck on the side? It’s the American way! Absolutely nothing at all wrong with a sitting Supreme Court justice entrenched ‘til death telling the world how he will rule on every future case he sees. Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind is made up – and your nation takes another high hard one from a flame-throwing right hander, with no relief in sight.