All amusement and horror at things like Hillary Clinton's weird spiel aside, the thing that bothers me most about the left's reaction to any major Supreme Court decision, whether they consider it a win or a loss for their side, is a seriously messed-up notion of what the Court is. I first noticed this (and wrote about it in Caelum et Terra) over twenty years ago. It's the idea that the Court is a sort of council of tribal elders who, when there is a disagreement among the people, put their wise old heads together and decide what is right: nine Solomons. Or, as I put it in that CetT piece, nine popes without a God.
Here's Charles Cooke, at National Review Online:
One cannot help but wonder whether [Nicholas] Kristof and [Harry] Reid are aware of what the Supreme Court actually does — which, as anybody who has even a fleeting grasp of American civics knows, is not to set American policy, on health or anything else, but to interpret and uphold the law. In this particular case, the justices were called to judge whether a mandate that was pushed out by the Obama administration in 2012 was in conflict with another law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, that was added to the books in 1992. This being so, the degree to which those who decided the case are “experts on women’s health” is wholly immaterial. The justices are jurists not doctors — they are nine appointed attorneys whose role in the American settlement is to provide legal answers to legal questions.
Cooke is English, and clearly understands the American system a lot better than many of us do.
Cooke and Kevin Williamson are two young(er) writers who have been making National Review more interesting recently. They're sharp-witted and write engagingly. Here's Williamson on the whole folly of making health care the responsibility of the employer and the state; it's a snarky piece, and generally I try to avoid indulging in snark, or propagating it, but this instance pretty much cries out for it:
Progressives mad about Hobby Lobby started a campaign under the motto: “Not my boss’s business.” But Obamacare makes it — pardon me for noticing — literally your boss’s business. And I don’t mean “literally” the way Joe Biden uses it; I mean “literally” the way literally literate people use it. The alternative is this: Your money, your pills, your call. If what you care about is access to contraception, then that’s a pretty good model. If what you care about is using the levers of the state to force moral uniformity on the entire country so that atavistic Evangelical types have to knuckle under to your demands — well, you lost.
I don't particulary like that "well, you lost"--chances are excellent that it will be we who lose next time. But what precedes it is accurate. I've been thinking (and saying) for some years now that only a willingness to allow legitimate diversity on questions like this will keep the country from coming apart.
And by the way: isn't "Keep Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries" about the most nonesensical slogan ever to achieve wide popularity?