Stakes in race for POTUS even higher now following Scalia’s death


The stakes in the U.S. presidential contest have just escalated to a new level, now that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has died.

Scalia, an outspoken jurist who could generally be counted on to give the conservatives a majority vote and who helped deliver the 1990 election to Bush over Gore, so the nomination of a replacement takes on enormous importance for the future of the country – particularly since these appointments carry no term limits.

With such hot-button issues as immigration, health care and abortion on the table, the political stance of a divided federal court becomes even more paramount in importance.

Although President Obama has announced he intends to pitch someone to fill the vacancy, that effort probably has as much chance of succeeding as Team America has colonizing Mars in the next century, given a hostile GOP-dominated Congress.

So that leaves the job up to the candidate we elect in November. Which could be … President Trump … for all I know … or President Cruz.

In which case, the whole issue may be moot since Cruz is not a big fan of government so he may well decide to abolish the nation’s top tribunal as a wasteful intrusion into the right of states to make their own laws.

Or, if we get President Sanders, a purported believer in socialism, he may also do away with the Court as a distasteful defender of Capitalist conquest.

So what’s to be done?

Look, since those halcyon days of the Framers, the law has taken on a life all to itself. Have you ever tried to interpret a New York City street parking sign?

As pointed out by Kowal Communications, a Massachusetts-based marketing/PR firm, “When federal laws were first codified in 1927, they fit into a single volume. By the 1980s, there were 50 volumes of more than 23,000 pages.

“And today? Online sources say that no one knows. The Internal Revenue Code alone … contains more than 3.4 million words and, if printed 60 lines to the page, is more than 7,500 pages long. [And] there are about 20,000 laws just governing the use and ownership of guns.”

Just thinking about taking the law board examinations must give law students the shakes.

Close to 40% of the members of Congress are lawyers and what they and the rest of their colleagues don’t know about the intricacies of framing legislation they can learn from all-too-willing highly paid lobbyists.

Yet, with all the laws on the books, there must be something wrong with them, because every time something goes wrong in America, there’s a big hue and cry to remedy it by enacting a new law.

These days, of course, Congress will make no new law – particularly in an election year – without first checking how much money would be spent to implement it.

I propose a simple solution to this: replace legal scholars with folks from every walk of life … farmers, merchants, teachers, cops, firefighters, laborers, etc., and have them publicly debate and pros and cons of an issue.

In place of the largely private deliberations, open only to the select few observers and not televised, that the High Court now conducts, there should be open discussions that everyone can see and hear.

Sure, you can have lawyers representing both sides, but the folks entrusted with the decision will be reviewing the matter in a common sense way and will be compelling the lawyers to state their case so that everyone will be sure to understand and you won’t need a law degree to get it.

Maybe I’m being naïve or even presumptuous to recommend this path to justice but we can start out by experimenting on a trial basis – perhaps on a municipal level – and taking it from there.

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