Greenhouse Trolls C.J. Roberts: Are You Manly Enough?

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.

26 thoughts on “Greenhouse Trolls C.J. Roberts: Are You Manly Enough?

  1. Maurice Ross

    Recently your commentaries have taken a turn that is unfortunate. I generally agree with your comments on legal issues. But your mistake is in believing that sometimes there is a legitimate moral component in legal analysis. You also don’t seem to understand that the law is not divorced from power. Further, the court is assigned an important role to block abuses of power by a President. Sorry but social justice and equal rights are core constitutional values and there are no absolute rights. The First Amendment does not permit crying fire in a crowded room. Nor does it permit hate speech that directly and proximate leads to violence. A protester who urges his followers to break windows when he knows his followers will probably comply is not protected by the First Amendment. Nor is a President who campaigns in support of a Muslim ban immunized from
    legal attack when his order purports to ban only countries when in fact it is an intentional scheme to illegally ban Muslims based on religion. On these issues, we do indeed have to take sides and the courts must step in against a President who is grossly abusing authority after only two weeks. Yes we have to take sides in the law and I am discouraged that recently you seem to disparage social justice.

    1. Paleo

      If I were on the left I think that in light of recent events I’d avoid talking about defense of the First Amendment for a bit. I’m not a conservative or a Trump fan but the left is demonstrating these days that they are not big fans of free speech.

      And if our host replies, you’re gonna get smacked for the “fire in a crowded theater” trope and your hate speech take in the context of the 1A.

      1. SHG Post author

        Of what he said, the fire trope is the least of it, beyond demonstrating his complete lack of grasp of free speech. There may be no more important time in history to adhere to principle than now, with Trump as president. Maurice reflects why Trump is president, which he will never have the capacity to grasp. I don’t blame the stupid people for being stupid. They have no other choice. I blame the smart people for being just as stupid as the stupid people, because they do.

      1. SHG Post author

        He knows. He has chosen to take his chances in order to chastise me for not toeing the social justice orthodoxy. Much of my writing on crim law matches the SJW feelz, and so they mistake my adherence to principle with their emotionalism. When I write in other areas that don’t match the orthodoxy, they get confused. How is it possible someone who they agree with on one issue writes heresy on another?

        So Maurice was going to shame me with his social justice tears, likely aware that I would not break down and cry the sad tears of social justice when I had the epiphany that my writing did not match his emotions. He tried. He failed. He will walk away certain of his righteousness and sad that he was unable to show me the path to heaven.

    2. SHG Post author

      You are exactly what you claim to despise, just too self-absorbed with your morality to grasp it. This goes far deeper than such idiocy as your mistaken First Amendment trope. The only difference between you and the alt-right white supremacist is a few words and your self-righteous abdication of principle.

      Social justice is a cesspool. I have no plan to dive in after you. And nothing encourages me more than your assertion that I discourage you. I want nothing to do with your malignant values. You’re the scum you hate. You’re just too narcissistic to realize it.

    3. Dragoness Eclectic

      *head desks*
      What is it about Trump that brings so many fire-shouters to crowded theaters full of hate speech these days?

  2. PDB

    “trample the First Amendment, withhold information the law regards as subject to disclosure, or defy court orders on immigration or other matters”

    Does she really believe that no other President has ever done any of these things?

    1. SHG Post author

      Don’t be silly. The “First Amendment” is just empty words to her, to be used to silence words she hates.

      1. Ross

        The old “I am in favor of free speech, as long as it’s speech I approve of” argument. Brought to you by people who lack the ability to see any side of an issue other than their own, and who have no clue that the world has very little black and white, but is mostly some shade of gray.

        One of the more entertaining features of the Trump presidency is the number of folks that are acting in the exact same manner they ridiculed when it was the anti-Obama forces doing the whining.

        1. SHG Post author

          It’s not about “seeing issues,” but forsaking issues, because they are too difficult to parse and often end up conflicting with their values, which is an unacceptable outcome. By conflating thought with feelings, we enable the idea that their feelz are a viable substitute for thought. They’re not. They’re just feelz.

  3. Jim Tyre

    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.

    Norms are overrated. Except for the character Norm on Cheers.

  4. mb

    Like Maurice, I too am disappointed that current events continue to force you into the position of defending people I agree with. But unlike Maurice, that’s because I know that I only learn anything here when you don’t agree with me.

    I’m not a constitutional scholar, but it hardly seems worth checking to see if Supreme Court precedent or the Federalist Papers include any support for the proposition that the courts are supposed to be any more antagonistic towards the other branches whenever they are controlled by the same party. Unfortunately, I don’t expect the left to grow up and realize how stupid they look any time soon.

  5. Roger

    You’ve been on a tear lately writing about the vanity and futility of protests against our president and (extralegal) appeals to the courts to make things right. Your insistence that this isn’t how things work seems awfully idealistic for a guy who has spent as much time as you have in the trenches.

    Perhaps someday, somewhere, we will have the Platonic Ideal Court, where judges rule based only on the law and the facts, but for now, as Mr. Dooley taught us, the Supreme Court follows election returns. And polls. And the papers. I don’t know what’s inside Justice Roberts’ head, but his opinions leave lots of room for the argument that the Chief Justice is less of an umpire calling balls and strikes and more of a politician looking to preserve the standing of his court. Ms. Greenspan may or may not be using the right lure this time, but trolling for his vote makes more sense than you allow.

    1. SHG Post author

      You’ve packed quite a few disparate things into a fairly succinct comment. Short response is that the basic system is only viable at all if its structural integrity remains intact. Assuming that’s the case, higher order problems exist at the top, much like Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs. If you don’t have a functional court, you can’t concern yourself with self-actualization in the nuanced application of law.

      So this isn’t about a Platonic Ideal Court, but the basic foundation for a functioning court. If we can’t keep this, nothing more matters. As for Mr. Dooley and the Supreme Court following the election results, you might want to find something a wee bit more knowledgeable to lean on. You may be taught by fictional characters, but I prefer reality.

      1. Roger

        If fiction doesn’t do it for you, for reality maybe try Kennedy’s opinion in Obergefell or Robert’s opinion in King v Burwell to find non-fiction examples of courts following the polls. Or, to bring it back to Trump’s immigration order, Judge Brinkema’s statement during a hearing that about the level of public concern the order had caused: “People are really upset.”

        1. SHG Post author

          Still not doing it for me. There are examples, Roe v. Wade being quite obvious, but that doesn’t mean it’s a guiding principle rather than the occasional outlier, whether because the situation is inflammatory (think Bush v. Gore) or to protect from fundamental systemic disruption (King v. Burwell). Obergefell was a principled decision. As for Judge Brinkema, that’s a poor example. It related to a stay, which is an entirely different situation.

    2. Billy Bobinsky

      Ms. Greenspan? The wife of the former Federal Reserve chairman is no doubt nonplussed and/or impressed,
      but this a law blog and not an economics one. We follow the econo-blogs as well. The only thing you have to know there is that the broken clocks are correct at most twice a day. Between the Greenspans, the Greenhouses and the Greenfields, our head is spinning.

      Other than that, why do we have to have a chief justice? Why cannot we have a rotating chief justice at large? We’re not at all happy with the top-down, hierarchical nature of the judicial branch which is reminiscent of a certain Christian Church, not to mention the canonistic-ideationalistic nature of Judaism. The flip side of the same coin, if you ask me?

  6. AmyB

    Linda Greenhouse *attended* law school for one year in the late 1990s or early 2000s under a special program Yale hosts for journalists. She did not graduate, however.

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