Peggy Noonan’s pearl-clutching is legendary. So of course she is terribly concerned about the welfare of everyone in the country over this Supreme Court vacancy when she writes: The Court, Like the Country, Needs Balance. Or maybe not.
Noonan starts off by paying homage to Antonin Scalia and how terribly brave he was to swim “each day against the tide.” Given her penchant for “balance,” you might wonder what that tide was all about, but we’ll leave that for another day.
She goes on to suggest that all of those 5-4 decisions on the Court contributed to an “air of credibility” and that when they tip one way, “it invites people to see injustice and bully politics.” If that sounds familiar, it is exactly the reasoning conservatives have used to convince our media to frame every issue as a he said/she said. In that world, the consensus of science, factual evidence and morality are not the final arbiters. Each side must be given equal weight – no matter how unmoored they are from the evidence.
I’ll leave it to the Supreme Court historians to prove just how wrong Noonan is when she insists on balance in all decisions. I’d simply ask her if Brown v. Board of Education – which was a 9-0 decision back in 1954 – required more “balance.” It sounds like she would have embraced the idea of a Justice Scalia swimming against the tide of overturning Plessy v Ferguson.
Does anyone else find it interesting to hear a conservative talking about balance when it comes to constitution principles? I thought they were the ones committed to ultimate truths and foundational values. But what we have here is someone who knows, underneath it all, that things are changing. The days of white male patriarchy are numbered. And the best she can argue is that the dissenters to that change (in other words, those on the wrong side of history) deserve a voice.
The closeness of the vote suggests both sides got heard. The closeness contributes to an air of credibility. That credibility helps people accept the court’s rulings.
Much like what Hugh Hewitt wrote yesterday, the side that Noonan thinks needs to be heard in order for the court to have credibility is the one that is concerned about questions of “religious life, on abortion and marriage, on guns and immigration.” In other words, the blows conservatives are feeling to the white male patriarchy.
Noonan then goes on to clutch her pearls about allowing the man we elected president to do his job. She says that Obama CAN nominate someone to replace Scalia – but he shouldn’t.
What to do? The closest you can come to public peace in resolving the question of Scalia’s replacement is to take a step wholly unusual, even unprecedented, and let the American people make the decision themselves, this year, with their 2016 presidential vote.
As so many people pointed out when Sen. Mitch McConnell made the same argument, this totally ignores the fact that the American people made their decision in 2012 when they elected Barack Obama. Or perhaps this is what Noonan is suggesting:
— brad steiner (@bradstinks) February 13, 2016
The bottom line is that conservatives like Peggy Noonan know what is coming. They can’t stop it. By “it,” I mean the changes they’ve been fighting against for years, but are coming anyway. She ends this piece with a bit of a warning:
Progressives have no idea how fragile it all is. That’s why they feel free to be unappeasable. They don’t know what they’re grinding down.
They think America has endless give. But America is composed of humans, and they do not have endless give.
The “humans” she is referring to – of course – are “conservative humans.” What is being ground down is their attachment to white male patriarchy. It is a battle this country has been fighting since its founding when the statement, “all men are created equal” literally meant “men” (not women) and those who weren’t white were assumed to be savages and/or property. We’ve made a lot of progress since those days. But we’re not done yet. Those who are seeking “balance” on the Supreme Court to stave off the next stage of perfecting our union are grasping at their last straws.