Daniel Oliver

Did Chief Justice John Roberts Kill Cock Robin?

Roberts made a Supreme Court that is political instead of judicial. That’s where the buck stops now.

Question: Who killed Cock Robin?

Answer: His killing is not relevant to who leaked the draft Supreme Court decision on the abortion case.

Ah, but it is! The answer to the above question is known in legal circles as a “nonresponsive answer.” It is relevant to at least part of the current discussion. 

Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are claiming that when they interviewed Donald Trump’s nominees to the Supreme Court or followed what the nominees said at their confirmation hearings, the nominees gave assurances that they would not vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. Murkowski said: “I think you look to some of the statements that were made in the confirmation, specifically to Roe, about precedent, and there’s a reliance factor there.” Collins said: “[The decision] would be completely inconsistent with what Justice [Neil] Gorsuch and Justice [Brett] Kavanaugh said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office.”

That seems most unlikely. Dissembling is simply not what Supreme Court nominees do—if only because they tend to be skillful enough wordsmiths to mollify a hostile interrogator without dissembling. But, on the other hand, the claim of being double-crossed—or double spoken to—is precisely the kind of claim to which a senator facing a difficult reelection campaign (e.g., Collins) might have to resort. It seems more likely that a campaigning politician will . . . stretch the truth than a Supreme Court nominee would dissemble. 

Here’s a story, which comes with good provenance, that Collins and Murkowski, and all the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health opponents, should ponder: Anthony Kennedy was asked by “the White House” (i.e., by someone in the White House who was vetting him for the Supreme Court) if he was opposed to abortion. The question’s import was clear: Are you likely to overrule Roe if you get the chance? Send us a signal. Kennedy’s answer was: “I’m Catholic.” 

Alas. That is known in legal circles, and to readers of this column who have been paying attention, as a “nonresponsive answer.” 

And the rest, one might say, is history (Kennedy went on not to oppose abortion in critical cases)—except that part of that history, and an important part, seems about to be changed. But who caused the leak? 

Chief Justice John Roberts.

No, Roberts may not have actually slipped the draft opinion to Politico, but he fostered the atmosphere where that sort of thing could happen. Roberts is a nice fellow, but he hasn’t run a tight ship where things like this simply don’t happen. Harry Truman would understand. Truman knew where the buck stopped. And in this case, it stops with Roberts.

But there’s more: Roberts has been an overtly political justice, an overtly political chief justice. We saw that in his 2012 opinion for the Court in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius. He embarrassed himself and the Court when he upheld Obamacare on spurious grounds. By switching his vote, he created a decision, and a Court, that was political instead of judicial. Because of who he is, he didn’t want to affirm or deny; he looked for middle ground where there wasn’t any. That is politics. 

Leaking is a political act, too. It’s a natural progression from Roberts’ behavior in the Obamacare case. It’s a further traducing of our standards of civilized and law-abiding behavior.   

And here’s another example: In March 2020, during a protest rally in front of the Supreme Court as it was hearing a case involving an abortion question, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) bellowed threats at Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh: “I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”

What price is there for them to pay? They can’t be fired. Their salaries can’t even be reduced. Is there a price other than bodily harm that Schumer had in mind? Theoretically, they would know “what hit them” if they were only punched and kicked, but not if they were struck, in the right place, by a bullet. But then again, maybe Schumer was just warning them to be terrified of . . . what he might say about them in his autobiography? Please. Schumer was threatening democracy—a delicate and beautiful thing. Like Cock Robin. 

You might not have been frightened at the time by Schumer’s remarks. But consider what happened afterward: a summer of rioting, burning, looting, and yes, killing, all winked at, and even justified, by many of the same people who militantly support abortion. Oh, yes, that’s not their only defining characteristic. But the complete disregard for the rule of law by those people—who are now the people running the country!—should frighten everyone, including Supreme Court justices.

John Roberts should make amends by not issuing the decisions until it’s too late for Democrats to campaign on the issue in the coming congressional elections.  

How do civilizations collapse? Ernest Hemingway might have answered, “Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.” At what stage are we now? 

Cock Robin is dead. We should take his death seriously. Because whoever killed Cock Robin is coming for us, too.

Published:

May 12, 2022
American Greatness

Harvard: Slave to Vanitas

“Smite eternally my ancestors, O Lord, for their iniquities, and be not merciful to them; And bless me for my recognition of their transgressions.”

— Woke Psalms 186

In a letter to the Harvard community, university president Lawrence Bacow reported on the work of the Committee on Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery. The committee found that Harvard’s history includes “extensive entanglements with slavery.” 

That may shock the consciences of members of the Harvard Snowflake Society, but the Harvard Committee to Eliminate Discrimination against Jews and the Harvard Committee to Eliminate Discrimination against Asians are not likely to be surprised, and neither are the members of the Harvard Committee to Abolish Original Sin, whose members do not include Harvard’s new atheist chaplain.

In order to atone for Harvard’s sins, Bacow has promised to redress its legacy with slavery through “teaching, research, and service,” and has pledged $100 million toward that effort. Think of it as reparations.

A hundred million dollars! “Cui bono?” the lawyers might ask. “Oy vey,” the Jews may say, now that they too can go to Harvard.

What will Harvard teach about slavery? That it was wrong? How much of the $100 million will that cost? Will it be a required course? Are there any required courses at Harvard?

What’s the research for? The committee would seem to have done enough already—enough at least to cause Harvard to allocate $100 million. How much more research is needed? Or is that just a feel-good operation: wallowing in how badly Harvard’s forebears behaved, in order to contrast them with present management? 

And what kind of service does Harvard intend to perform? Extra affirmative action? In other words, more discrimination, this time against individuals and groups who are currently less favored than blacks—the way blacks were less favored in the past?

Who will benefit from Harvard’s $100 million spending spree?

It’s difficult enough for people to atone for their own sins. How does one atone for the sins of others? 

And hasn’t Harvard already spoken on the question? Memorial Hall was constructed in 1875, at a cost of $370,000, then equal to one-twelfth of Harvard’s endowment. (Bacow’s pledge of $100 million is only one twenty-fifth of its current endowment.) The names of the Harvard graduates who fought in the Civil War are inscribed on the building, but not all of them: only those who fought for the Union. 

The Harvard committee report notes that “over nearly 150 years . . . Harvard presidents and other leaders, as well as its faculty and staff, enslaved more than 70 individuals, some of whom labored on campus.” Seventy individuals over nearly 150 years! Yes, yes, that’s too many of course, but how many Jews did Harvard keep out? A lot more than 70, you may be certain.

So why this flashy mea culpa now? Because it’s not a mea culpa; it’s a tua culpa.

Reparations are a perennial favorite cause as elections roll around. This year, the reparations cause is likely to be a special favorite of the woke Left. Donald Trump, the gift that has given so much to Democrats, isn’t the bogeyman he used to be, which is why Democrats are frantic to keep January 6 alive and scandalous. And white racist QAnons are said to be hiding under every bed (move over, Commie, make a little room for me!), coming out only at night to devise methods to keep blacks from voting. The Biden Administration intelligence community and the FBI have said violent domestic extremist movements (notably “white supremacists”) are the most lethal terrorist threat to Americans. Who’s a “white supremacist”? Probably you are, if you disagree in any respect with the approved Democratic Party line.

Even so, the devotion of blacks to the Democrats may be more tenuous than at any time since Eisenhower won 36 percent of the black vote in 1956. Black Americans have watched woke elites defund the police (an amazingly stupid idea, opposed by 81 percent of black Americans), elect get-out-of-jail-free district attorneys in the name of “racial justice,” and teach (in the few days when the schools are open) diversity, equity, and inclusion instead of reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Hence the need for a Big Gun: Reparations.

But there are problems—unmentionable and mentionable. The unmentionable one is that blacks who were transported to America were almost certainly no worse off than they would have been had they been kept as slaves in their native land. That does not excuse either their sellers or their purchasers; they may rot in Hell. (Does Harvard’s chaplain believe in Hell?) But being a slave in America was probably better than being a slave in one of those countries, whose accurate description by President Trump caused a run on smelling salts.

And then there is the data (see Thomas Sowell’s work) showing blacks’ economic progress was faster in the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s than in the years following the passing (in a previous fit of self-righteousness by Democrats) of the Civil Rights Laws and the Great Society programs.

Today we have 18 (!) inner-city Hell-holes run by Democrats where the total number of annual shooting victims (797 homicides last year in Chicago alone) is magnitudes larger than the total number of slaves who worked at Harvard, whose history is so upsetting to the snowflakes who run the university today.

What good will Harvard’s $100 million “teaching, research, and service” be for those blacks who live, and survive, in America’s inner cities, forced to attend barren public schools? The latest National Assessment of Educational Progress found 85 percent of black students lack proficiency in reading skills.

According to the Harvard Crimson, in 2020, “270 faculty members contributed a total of $317,835 to Biden, while just five faculty members contributed a total of $3,030 to Trump.” Biden (indeed, the entire Democratic Party) is a wholly owned tool of the teachers’ unions. Time was when people thought the teachers’ unions and the Democrats were just selfish in not educating students; now some think keeping blacks uneducated and illiterate is a strategy to keep them voting for Democrats.

As Elon Musk is willing to take a flyer to change the structure of public discourse (for which the woke solons, and probably the entire Harvard faculty too, hate him), so Harvard could show some spunk and take a $100 million flyer on educating black children. 

Dream on.

Instead, Harvard, moored now and for many decades past by moss-covered error, will seek blessings (secular, of course) from the New York Times and the rest of the woke community for recognizing the transgressions of their ancestors’ past.

Now that the stock of the puritans has died, Harvard should change its motto from Veritas to Vanitas.

Published:

May 5, 2022
American Greatness