Clocking the Court

The rapidly unfolding melodrama attendant to the sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia brings to mind professional football metaphors.

Conveniently forgetting to remember that in 1987 a Democratic senate unanimously approved lame duck Ronald Reagan’s nomination of Anthony Kennedy to the Supreme Court 97-0, the Repugnantcan Party and its fellow travelers now brandish the meme that Barack Obama has no right to put forth a nominee to replace the iconic arch-conservative constitutional quarterback, and even if he did, they claim to have no duty to consider that nomination. Why, they argue? Because a year from now Obama will be history, but the Supreme Court endures to referee the game called Fedball.

Of course the barely concealed subtext is that Obama is a foreign-born half-breed Muslim poseur who usurped the presidency and thus deserves no deference whatsoever. And the unspoken assumption is that he will be succeeded by one of the clueless GOP (“Gnomes on Parade”) pretenders to the throne in November, who will then nominate a patriot with the wisdom of Solomon to the nation’s highest bench.

But just for a moment suppose they are wrong, and Sanders or Clinton—or even that hoarse whisperer Michael Bloomberg—takes the November election. It could, and probably will happen, you know. Mitch McConnell and most other Gnomes must realize that. They follow the polls too, but it doesn’t matter for them because they won’t be satisfied until the Federal Government is completely paralyzed. It wasn’t enough for them to spend seven years defunding the executive branch, holding the Treasury hostage over the debt ceiling, repealing Obamacare, and sandbagging dozens of judicial and cabinet nominees; they still have yet to overthrow the government of the United States. And so, their fourth quarter game plan aims take all: cripple the Supreme Court by cutting its lineup.

With just eight justices on the field, we’ll have gridlock on the judicial gridiron. Most cases they hear will likely come to split decisions that move the ball back to the fifty yard line. Conservatives hoping to score in some of them were counting on Nino to carry the ball into the liberal end zone and win them for the gyppers of democracy. Now that their star player lies in state, all they can do is stare into cameras threatening to take the ball and go home.

Suppose in some big NFL playoff New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gets clocked by an opposing lineman and, unthinkably and tragically, breaks his neck. Would the other side—say the Carolina Seahawks—insist that New England has no right to field a guy from their bench and so must forfeit the game? That’s the sort of one-year timeout that the GOP is calling for in Fedball. And if that playbook makes sports fans too restive, they’ll declare that the only way they’ll resume the game is for Obama to field one of their own players, hoping for a Hail Mary win for the gyppers.

The entire GOP team should be drug tested. They are clearly performing outside the limits of their endurance and must be on something. If this were baseball, there’d be a commissioner to make the call. But this is American political football, where team owners make the rules and a tie is as good as a win.

Geoff Dutton is a reformed geek turned columnist, novelist, and publisher hailing from Boston who writes about whatever distortions of reality strike his fancy. Turkey Shoot, his novel interrogating the lives and times of members of a cell of terrorists in Europe, recently received an award for Courage in Fiction. You can find more of his writing here and at Progressive Pilgrim Review. He welcomes correspondence at geoff-at-perfidy-dot-press.