"Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government." Thomas Jefferson

Scalia's Lessons For Trumpkins

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 16
Publish Date: 
Thu, 02/25/2016


Among this election season’s oddities was the dust-up between Pope Francis and Donald Trump. After departing Mexico, the Pontiff appeared to criticize Trump in an interview, suggesting that building walls – not bridges – “is not Christian.”


Calling the comment “disgraceful,” the presidential front-runner and insulter-in-chief compelled the Vatican to Think Again before retreating. Meanwhile, comedians joked that the perceived papal putdown would cause church attendance to fall and Trump’s poll numbers to surge.


Indeed, by crossing swords with the Pontiff, Trump burnished his image as a fearless fighter, a trait his voters prize. Unfazed by his incoherence, lack of policy specifics or controversies, Trump supporters, like columnist Jim Nolte, are tired of losing and want “someone who will do whatever it takes to win.”


Buoying Trump is Americans’ sense of powerlessness and insecurity. Consider these controversial policies, imposed on disapproving majorities using extra-constitutional means: the Iran deal; the irresponsible and never-debated Omnibus budget; Obamacare; trade promotion; and executive actions and sanctuary-city policies that nullify immigration laws.


But for Trumpkins, “Making America Great Again” isn’t about restoring government of, by and for the people. It’s about elevating their own Julius Caesar to make deals with a ruling class that runs government like a spoil system – of special interests, by unelected bureaucrats and for political elites.


Apparently, Trumpkins want a warrior who’ll “bork” political opponents. The angry verb “to bork” means to discredit by whatever methods necessary. It was coined after the character assassination of eminent jurist Robert Bork, killing his 1987 Supreme Court nomination the year after recently deceased Justice Antonin Scalia won a 98-0 Senate confirmation.


Anti-Bork activist Ann Lewis later explained the unprecedented smear campaign: there’d be a “deep and thoughtful discussion about the Constitution, and then we would lose.” Hence, Kennedy’s fabrication that in Bork’s America, “women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters.”


Writing 24 years later, New York Times columnist Joe Nocera lamented the nomination battle’s “essential unfairness,” noting “the line from Bork to today’s ugly politics is a straight one.” Whatever one thinks about Bork’s views, Nocera argued, “they cannot be fairly characterized as extreme…. Rarely has a failed nominee had the pedigree – and intellectual firepower – of Bork.”


That Bork was Scalia’s ideological and intellectual equal, but was rejected shortly after Scalia’s unanimous approval, speaks to how politicized the theoretically independent judiciary has become.  Consider that it was President Franklin Roosevelt’s fellow Democrats who foiled his plan to pack the Supreme Court.


Thomas Jefferson warned that giving “judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not… would make the Judiciary a despotic branch." Now, having morphed from “the least dangerous branch” into an unelected super-legislature of nine philosopher kings with lifetime appointments, it’s not surprising Supreme Court nominations are hotly contested – and fraught with hypocrisy.


Though waxing indignant over Republican refusals to consider a lame-duck president’s Supreme Court nomination during this election year, Sens. Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden favored obstructing Republican judicial nominees.


In 1992, Biden, then the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, proclaimed, “action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over,” insisting the president not nominate anyone. And in 2006, then-Sen. Barack Obama voted to block an up-or-down vote on Justice Samuel Alito’s nomination.


Ironically, an activist and politicized judiciary is what Scalia wanted to roll back, favoring the founders’ original intent: separation of powers, checks, and an independent judiciary with limited authority to resolve legal disputes by applying – not writing – the law. Other issues should be decided democratically – at the ballot box or by representatives accountable to the people.


By short-circuiting the democratic process for resolving emotionally charged issues, Scalia believed the Court was violating “a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation.”


Feeling voiceless and powerless in an America that’s migrated away from it’s founding purpose – the democratic self-governance of a free people – many Trumpkins want a strong-arm “borker” to wield power on their behalf. But do they really want a vengeful president using the IRS, NSA, FBI and CIA to target and punish critics?


As Scalia argued while pointing to unfree nations that have charters of rights, “It isn’t the Bill of Rights that produces freedom; it’s the structure of government that prevents anybody from seizing all the power.”


Essentially, the founders used constitutional walls to separate and check power so that diverse people with differing beliefs would be free to build bridges of mutual respect and tolerance, forging an open and decent society. The Supreme Court’s unlikely “best buddies” – rivals Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg – built a remarkable bridge, a lesson for Pope Francis, Trump and Trumpkins.


Think Again – Isn’t the best way to Make America Great Again to elect a president who’ll adhere to America’s great constitution?


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Who is this mythical

Who is this mythical candidate that Ms. Sturm envisions?

Sorry to break the news to you Ms. Strum, but the candidate your party is putting forth, the candidate that you and your like minded right wingers helped to create, is before you. In a previous Op Ed you attempted to blame the rise of Trump on Obama. I guess you could make that case, in a round about way, if you are suggesting that the anger and frustration due to the realization that we have an African American president, has stoked the fires of racism and thereby fueled the popularity of Trump among the republican base.

Your continued asssertion that somehow Obama's actions are "extra constitutional" is the kind of speech that is adding fuel to the Trump fire. Claims that Obama is a tyrannical dictator, that he is ignoring the constitution, while at the same time republicans in congress are suggesting that he ignore his constitutional duty to nominate a supreme court justice. Talk about hypocrisy.

Warren Buffet has just come out and chastised the GOP for continuing to bemoan the economy when in fact the economy is not doing bad. Berkshire Hathaway has reported a profit of almost 25 billion for 2015 and Buffet is endorsing Clinton. So go ahead Ms. Sturm, make all the excuses you want. Trump is your creation and you are gonna have to live with what you created. I'm affraid the chickens have come home to roost!

some say Scalia fought

some say Scalia fought against rule of judges, AKA kritarchy. But there are differing definitions of that word. Trump fights stupidity and anti Americanism. Agree it would be best to fight for the Constitution.

I love your columns. I

I love your columns. I eagerly await them and I must say that you are so right on every time.

Unfortunately, it takes thoughtful principled people to understand and appreciate what you are trying to tell them. Full disclosure here, I am a Ted Cruz supporter and have been from the get go, but I went into this election cycle with an open mind. It has for me, anyway, become abundantly clear that he is the man as he is a solid Conservative Constitutionalist and has been all his life.

It distresses me when I hear people say Cruz is not electable, we need someone who is moderate, he doesn't get along with anyone ( meanwhile, the people of Texas elected him to the Senate and he won a huge victory over the well financed establishment contender). And then of course the latest is that he is a serial lier spewed out endlessly by "the Donald "and Marco (who in fact lied about his role in the Immigration Reform Bill).

I am praying that people will come to their senses or we will miss a chance to elect a true Conservative to the Presidency. If it doesn't happen this year I fear that I will not live long enough to see it happen as I am 74 years old.

Just a FYI did you know in the last 100 years or so we have only had two Conservative Presidents???? I had never thought of this; read this somewhere but it was Calvin Coolidge and of course Ronald Regan. Republicans we have had, but they were not true conservatives.

Keep up the good work!

Wonderful article and I

Wonderful article and I personally love anything I read that praises Bork for the genius and magnificent American he was.. He was my hero in law school and the greatest legal mind I have ever encountered...

His "bright line" article touched me powerfully; He simply wanted to always be true to the law and damn the politics or whims of the majority.. It is SO reminiscent of the greatness of those who imagined "a reasoned constitution" where the honest, trained mind would answer all legal questions based on words and legal precedent, and politics would be easily ignored as the rantings of inferior minds.. How else do you write a Bill of RIghts, and actually expect the majority to follow it? Bork fully understood the threat, and thus his "bright line" test was meant to mark a border that NO politically oriented mind could cross without being, obviously, inconsistent; ..

Without Bork, we elected a president who answers every issue with his political reaction, flaming all thoughtful responses with a vindictive;.. Without Scalia, there will be no intellectual powerhouse to shine the light of reason on nonsense from the rest; ..

Thanks for reminding people not only of Scalia's greatness, but of Bork's; ..

Enjoyed the column, as

Enjoyed the column, as usual.
I have never been as confused/concerned/worried etc. as with the current presidential race. I would have thought that it would be easy to find a candidate to beat Hillary. But now we’re down to Trump, Rubio and Cruz. I find myself getting swept up in the Trump mania, but then think about all the things you point out in your column. Cruz is a little too strident, and I don’t think he would attract those in the middle. I have always liked Rubio, but have been disappointed of late, as his responses seem more and more “canned.”

What are your leanings at this point? I wonder if there is much time left, as the Trump train is charging on.

I am not an fan or supporter

I am not an fan or supporter of Trump. Our political system has allowed the worst possible candidate to control our media and many voters. The problem simply is that he has a fixed base of 25 to 35% who hate the government and will allow this unqualified and untested windbag to dominate by dividing the majority of the voters to other candidates.

What this shows me is that in America, we have two very dominant constituencies. Among Republicans, there's a large group who hates government as it now exists, and among Democrats, there's a large group who hate America.

The Republicans who will never get nominated or excite the Republicans need to understand that they are helping nominate the worse candidate. Both Kasich and Carson need to drop out since the only viable challengers to Trump are Cruz and Rubio. Of these two Rubio probably has the better chance of winning against Hillary but Cruz is a far better debater and I think he could shred her to pieces in a one on one debate.

Name calling and derision.

Name calling and derision. Gee, what is next, SWATING and death threats? Well I see a nationally known ´conservative´ columnist for the great New York Times has just called for the death threat, so I guess it´s a matter of time for the rest of us.

The stunning part isn´t the argument of the content or quality of Trump´s positions, it is much more about upsetting the DC/media apple cart. After 8 years of a black liberation, Muslim, communist, THAT isn´t alarming, a non politician who talks too loud is suddenly the cause of panic.

Not sure any one human could save us from what this nation has done to itself over the last 50 years, but if all Trump does is cause millions of resigned American citizens to wake up and push back in the hope that the China shop is smashed, that would be a pleasant surprise after being betrayed by professional liars who get reelected to office and then vote for or stand by while the fraud destroys us.

There once was a guy with

There once was a guy with funny hair who appealed to people's patriotism and promised to make the country great again. He blamed immigrants for the nation's problems and thought himself superior to others. But that was 1930s Germany, so probably doesn't apply to us today.

Trump is what is needed for

Trump is what is needed for America. We do not need any more corrupt lawyer type politicians, who say one thing and end up doing the other. Cruz and Rubio claim to be constitutionalists, and I would certainly consider them and Kubiac before any other, except Trump.

Trump likes to shoot his mouth off, but I have faith that he loves the constitution and will stay within it, and would make a great president. He likes to make wild claims during his run for the nomination, but that is mostly hype, to get the republican nomination. He would rule according to the constitution.

It is mostly an act now to get the vote, but he will make a very good leader and he is what America needs. We are up to our gills in political correctness, and corruption, especially concerning the white house. Obama should have been impeached 4 years ago. He is also Israel's enemy.
Thanks for sharing your views. Have faith in Trump, he will not get us into any lawsuits, and he will of course confer with many great minds before he makes any decisions that affect our Country.

The biggest myth is that

The biggest myth is that Trump is an insurgent. That may have been his entry card, but the GOPe is shifting from opposition through acceptance to support very quickly. Suddenly "legit" endorsements are coming his way. It all began after he and Shel Adelson met in Vegas for lunch prior to the debate there.

Trump needs the reforming, I-don´t-need-the-job insurgent myth to continue channeling the disgust with the GOPe into growing his support.

Watch out "conservatives"...it ain´t as it seemed anymore. And no RINO whining afterwards, when "immigration reform" comes with the Wall, and a form of single-payer replaces Obamacare. Trump gives the GOPe an opportunity to clear out it´s closet of lingering social issues and policies, deal with the Greatest Deal Maker, and get RINO things passed under his cover.

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