With public pressure on the judiciary, because that’s how it works, to rule in accord with their feelz, Linda Greenhouse, the Yale Law School lecturer who didn’t think it worth her while to go to law school, uses her Gray Lady soapbox to goad the chief justice of the United States.
But if the pre-election possibility of spending the next years or decades in the minority was scary for the chief justice, he now faces something even more daunting: responsibility.
Because the chief justice, heck, any justice, otherwise has no responsibility? Cool story, sis.
President Trump’s hyperactive first days in office, along with the evidence that the two Republican-controlled houses of Congress will do the president’s bidding with few questions asked, leaves the judiciary as the only branch of government standing between the new administration and constitutional chaos. Consider what would have happened last weekend had half a dozen federal judges not stepped in to prevent the immediate ouster from the country of legal permanent residents and carefully vetted refugees and visa holders.
Whether the two houses of Congress will do the president’s “bidding” remains to be seen. Whether there will be constitutional chaos remains to be seen. Whether or not the stays of Trump’s Executive Order will remain in force after substantive determinations remains to be seen.
That Linda Greenhouse has picked her side? Well, that does not remain to be seen. She’s made that clear.
When the history of this period is written, the court will be judged by its answers to those questions. When the president, aided by his inner circle and his congressional enablers, pushes through some norm-shattering order, wipes away duly promulgated regulations with the flourish of a pen or drives a truck through the wall between church and state, where will the Roberts court be?
This is the nudge, the goad, the troll. Will you be on the “right side of history”? She loads the question, as the intellectually vapid and dishonest so often do, by tossing in disingenuous bombs, such as “norm-shattering order,” when what she refers to aren’t “norms,” but what she wants norms to be. Ironically, these are the new norms that shattered order established by the old norms that she doesn’t want to be norms.
Then there are the “duly promulgated regulations with the flourish of a pen.” A pen? Why does that strike a bell? And what is Greenhouse referring to when she says “duly promulgated regulations”? The Department of Education’s “Dear Colleague” letters? They weren’t regulations. They weren’t duly promulgated. Maybe the Transgender Guidance? Nope, neither regulations nor promulgated either. DAPA? Nope.
So Greenhouse, lacking much of a solid connection to factual reality, decides to take the deep dive into her imagination:
It’s hard to imagine two figures on the current public stage less alike than the button-down chief justice and the flamboyant president.
Watching Chief Justice Roberts administer the oath to Donald Trump, what struck me was the unlikelihood that these two men would even be sharing the same stage — and not only because during the campaign, Mr. Trump called the chief justice “an absolute disaster” for his votes to preserve the Affordable Care Act.
And what would be the relevance of Greenhouse’s imagination? The would be the concept of relevance as taught in law school, where Greenhouse lectures but never attended. Trump was elected president. Roberts was nominated and confirmed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. They are different jobs. They serve different purposes.
Greenhouse raises Trump’s smack at C.J. Roberts because she’s a masterful troll. Hah! See that, Roberts! This slimeball called you a name. You gonna take that from him?!? Except C.J. Roberts isn’t a child in the schoolyard who gets infuriated that some dope called him a name. He’s a big boy. He’s a smart guy. He’s the chief friggin’ justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He’s not going to decide cases because somebody called him a name.
And finally, Greenhouse tries to lower the boom, challenge Roberts directly to be her kinda man.
The question now is to what extent he is willing to lead his court in standing up against a president who, it is hardly far-fetched to imagine, may trample the First Amendment, withhold information the law regards as subject to disclosure, or defy court orders on immigration or other matters. The signs are equivocal at best.
Is that the Chief Justice’s job, Linda? To “lead his court” to do your bidding against a president you despise? What are the chances that your smack, “the signs are equivocal at best,” is going to make Roberts feel like some wimp who lacks the guts to meet the challenge?
Not that Linda Greenhouse maintains much by way of credibility outside the ivy covered nursery school known as Yale, but this infantile challenge is not only factually and legally vapid, but not even decent trolling. Does she really imagine that her trying to play C.J. Roberts is going to work? Will she “touch a nerve,” will she emasculate him, will she goad him into action?
This may well come as a surprise to Greenhouse, but being on the Supreme Court is kind of a big deal, even if the justices could do a whole lot more to make their decisions effective. The election of Donald Trump didn’t create responsibility where it never before existed. I’m going to take a wild guess that Chief Justice John Roberts understood that he was in a position of some serious responsibility before Greenhouse tried to troll him.
If C.J. Roberts asked me, and he won’t, I would urge him not to feed the troll. Particularly this troll, but because she’s not only ridiculously wrong, but she really sucks at trolling anyway. And as for the New York Times’ continued publishing of this insipid crap, they might want to consider whether the circulation numbers are worth establishing permanent residence under a bridge. Because that’s where trolls live.