A Question of Lawful Authority

Baseball season gets underway this week, a welcome distraction from the political battles in Washington.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate is warring over the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. The Republicans say he’s a stellar nominee, a judicial umpire who calls balls and strikes as he sees them. Democrats, led by New York’s Charles Schumer, however, say the judge is a creature of “special interests” who would slide into a base with spikes up and who deserves to be filibustered.

Who are those “special interests” you might ask? Well, they would be anyone who disagrees with progressives, which the November election indicated is at least half the country if not more.

The Republicans say Judge Gorsuch will help the Court return to constitutional principles. Democrats claim that he will “undo the gains” made by decades of liberal jurisprudence. We can only pray that they’re both right.

Over the years, federal courts – especially the Supreme Court – acquired an out-sized role in the nation’s affairs, especially during Franklin Roosevelt’s administration. Think of the federal government as a three-bodied creature, with one of the bodies in a black robe towering over the others with a giant Nancy Pelosi gavel.

Restraining the Supreme Court’s power, even slightly, has been a non-starter. Congress is packed with lawyers who dream of serving on or before the highest bench someday. It’s also an open secret that many politicians are relieved when hot button issues slide off their plates and directly onto the Court’s docket.

Nonetheless, given the Court’s near-omnipotence, the central question of what constitutes lawful authority will dominate public discussion in years to come, especially if there is a conservative majority. Right now, “lawful authority” is in the eye of the beholder on many levels.

For example, progressives applauded a federal…