The Terminator for Supreme Court!

by: Chris Bowers

Tue May 26, 2009 at 18:30


Here is what I have learned today from conservatives about the proper characteristics of a Supreme Court Justice:

  1. It is necessary that the a Supreme Court Justice have no empathy, or feelings of any kind.

  2. It is necessary that a Supreme Court Justice have no gender, ethnicity, or identity of any kind.

  3. It is necessary that a Supreme Court Justice have no views on right or wrong of any kind, and only "follow the law."
Given these characteristics, unless I am hearing conservatives wrong, what we really need are robots on the Supreme Court.

After all, while all humans have feelings, cultural identities, and conceptions of right and wrong, robots don't. All we have to do is program them to "follow the law," and they can make the decisions with absolute objectivity.

As someone who has long believed that humans are inferior and need to be replaced with robots (yeah, I'll be an informer during the Artificial Intelligence apocalypse) I'm down with this, btw. When will you humans learn that your "feelings," "identities" and "ethics" keep you from following the law, anyway?

Chris Bowers :: The Terminator for Supreme Court!

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Why not? (4.00 / 2)
Works for the Governor, why not the courts?!

How About Just A Machine? (0.00 / 0)
There is probably too much possibility of empathy in a robot -- after all they can be programmed by humans.  Why not a simple machine that dispenses justice based on how many coins are dropped it?

That is what congress is for. (4.00 / 6)


[ Parent ]
You know what I can't stand about humans? (4.00 / 3)
It's the smell....

You forgot rule 4 (4.00 / 4)
Rules not applicable if you are a Republican.

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

Obama should have nominated the Mac 128K judge from Futurama... (4.00 / 6)

Oh wait...

Nevermind...

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


So Republicans want a Rawlsian? (0.00 / 0)
One who judges from behind a veil of ignorance?

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

Oh no! (0.00 / 0)
See, the Rawlsian is forced to consider the possibility of being born into any possible socioeconoethnic situation, and that's a slippery slope right back into empathy!

Better go with a machine.  What's Albert Pujols doing?


[ Parent ]
As I understand it... (4.00 / 9)
A person without empathy is also known as a sociopath.  They also lack any concern for right and wrong.  If we can find a sociopath who suffers from amnesia, that would cover the identity questions.

Quick, someone bash Charles Manson on the head to fuck up his memory, and we'll have the ideal conservative judicial nominee.


I'm confused (4.00 / 3)
Listening to various so-called conservatives talking about the harms of judicial activism I hear appeals for empathy.  (I say so-called because traditional conservatives would recoil before the power-grabbing fools who have hijacked their legacy).

See, they seem to me to call for empathy...

For the poor victim of the predatory criminal released on a technicality.

For the unfortunate Fortune 500 company besieged on all sides by excessive litigation and the crushing burden of out-of-control punitive damages for piddling offenses like poisoning people.

For the golf course developer stymied by environmental regulations that place animals over mere people.

For the poor Office of the Executive, hamstrung by a meddlesome Congress, interfering with his war-making powers.

For white people held back because of consequences of something called slavery so many years ago.  

For men emasculated by women making unreasonable demands for equality.

For all the unborn children whose precious little heartbeats are snuffed out before they even have a chance to pick up a bible.

More seriously, every one of these nominations raises my blood pressure more than anything else in politics.  What does it is to see the "conservative" view described directly, and more perniciously indirectly in selection of tone and framing, as espousing fidelity to the constitution and a rejection of "judicial activism".  Occasionally some Dem puts up a meek fight over the terrain-determining framing, but usually it becomes this debate: 'Legislating from the bench - good or bad?'

Risks a cardiac because anyone with half a frickin' brain who looks at the history of the court and the law for even a short period realizes the real debate is: 'Are the consequences of this activism good or bad?'

Hell, even Scalia admitted that when it comes to Indian law 'we just make it up as we go along' (paraphrasing).

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze? And cold comfort for change?


It's simple, really (4.00 / 2)
A straight white male Republican is the closest approximation we can get to a robot.  He has a minimum of human feelings and is willing to toss people aside for the sake of "principle".  He's good at following orders.  He can be counted on to reliably protect the interests of the "haves". Until we can get a robot, straight white male Republicans are just the ticket.

Cute, but. . . (0.00 / 0)
Supreme Court Justices that interject their personal ideas of "right and wrong" over "following the law" are precisely the ones who threaten certain Constitutional liberties.

false dichotomy (4.00 / 3)
Laws are full of ambiguities where "following the law" may take multiple paths.  Hence why we need judges in the first place.  If laws were so very clear, there'd be little point (or for lawyers for that matter).

So if a human is going to interpret subjective passages of law, damn right it should be someone with empathy.


[ Parent ]
I don't have any problem with empathy (0.00 / 0)
I just don't believe it's necessary to the process of judging Constitutionality and intent. Those are processes of logic, not empathy. And my objection is not with "empathy" per se. Empathy is great. Certainly preferable to sociopathy. It's the idea that Justices should inject their own ideas of right and wrong into their decisions that I have a problem with. Unless you have faith in Scalia's or Alito's or Roberts' or Thomas' concept of right and wrong.

[ Parent ]
you're still missing the point I think (4.00 / 1)
They have to inject their views on right and wrong, because there are always going to be ambiguous points of law to which there is no golden legal ironclad resolution.

When the word "reasonable" appears in law (as it frequently does), what does that mean?  How can one interpret that without drawing on personal morality or subjective experience?  When two rights are in conflict, which should be pre-eminent?

Conservatives pretend there is such a thing as "strict constructionism" - there is not.  It's a bullshit fable.  Not all meaning is fluid, and the law isn't abstract art open to any subjective interpretation, but it is never as solid as some choose to believe.  


[ Parent ]
I should note (0.00 / 0)
that I'm not arguing in opposition to Judge Sotomayor. From what I know of her, she seems a reasonable enough choice. No problem there. I'm just arguing a point of judicial philosophy. My belief is that the judiciary should be dispassionate. Their job is not to determine how the law should be applied, but how it was intended to apply. What you describe I see as more the purview of the legislature, where right and wrong and political philosophy are appropriate in forming the law in the first place.

[ Parent ]
Possibility. (4.00 / 2)
How about Judge Dredd?

So, clones then? (0.00 / 0)
I dig it, I see where you're going with this. But who's going to convince the ethics review boards that the cloned children be raised in a strict environment where belief in science and any exposure to pleasure are denied to them?

The person who could argue that case, I submit, is in fact exactly the sort of bastich that I think these people have in mind for the task and we should clone them.


[ Parent ]
If nominated by a democratic president (0.00 / 0)
the right-wing would still oppose the nomination. These nominations are not about constructing a good court, they are about scoring political points that you can use to cajole your financial backers to pay for your campaigns (and creature comforts) while you get re-elected.



"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


As long as it's a white, male robot. (0.00 / 0)
Oh, also a Republican.

Wait (0.00 / 0)
Do you work for the Department of Redundancy Department?

[ Parent ]
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