Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Thursday, April 29, 2010 11:30 pm

Must-see TV: Clarence Thomas sitting there not saying anything

Filed under: Cool! — Lex @ 11:30 pm
Tags: , ,

The Senate has approved a bill requiring Supreme Court sessions to be televised.

On the one hand, this is a no-brainer: The public’s business, whenever possible, should be done in public.

But there are some tricky constitutional issues here. (And before I go any further, say it with me, kids: I Am Not A Lawyer.)

For example, let’s say the law passes. The Supreme Court could decide that it violates the Constitution’s separation of the powers of the three branches of government.

Except who would have standing to sue? The only people who would be “harmed” by the law are … members of the Supreme Court. (Whereas the other 299,999,991 of us are harmed by the status quo.)

So who would decide whether the Supreme Court would have standing to sue? Well, ultimately, the Supreme Court, I guess. I’m pretty sure I know how they’d rule on that one.

So let’s assume the Supreme Court sues and that the case, however it’s decided at trial, is appealed to the Supreme Court. Let’s further assume (because otherwise this blog post would have to end) that 1) the Supreme Court decides that the Supreme Court has standing to sue and 2) that the Supreme Court wins on the merits — that is, it rules the law an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers. What then?

Well, Congress still has the power of the purse. So Congress could say, OK, fine, not one thin dime for you nine or [UPDATE: Sorry; Article III, Section 1, says Congress can’t cut federal judges’ pay while they’re in office — just the pay of everyone who works for them, along with any and all appropriations for the Court itself] any of the people who work for you until you bring in the cameras. At that point, as I see it, the justices have three options:

  • Quit, in which case the president will appoint new ones who will promise to let in the cameras, and the Senate will get sworn promises to bring in the cameras out of the nominees before voting to confirm.
  • Keep working without pay, and require their staff to do the same even though they’re not getting paid, which will go on until all the staff quits (at which point Clarence Thomas may as well quit because it’s not like he actually researches and writes his own opinions) and/or they run out of office supplies.
  • Neither work nor quit, which means, since they’re appointed for life, that they stay justices until they die, except that Congress could impeach them — remember, an impeachable offense is whatever the House of Representatives votes that it is — and remove them from office.

So, the Supreme Court can fight the law, but they’ll get about as far as Bobby Fuller did. Sucks to be them, I guess, but it’s better for the rest of us.


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