Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
Senator Franken sent me his newsletter, which included the announcement that he would vote against President Trump’s nominee for Supreme Court. The reason: the nominee’s ideology favors big business over ordinary Americans.
The press release explains: “One of Sen. Franken’s main concerns that he said came out of the confirmation hearings is that Judge Gorsuch has a pattern of putting powerful interests, big business, and giant corporations over the safety and rights of average Americans. In one noteworthy ruling, Judge Gorsuch sided with a trucking business over an imperiled driver. In that case, the driver was stuck in below zero weather with frozen brakes and no heat. Forced to choose between freezing to death or driving an unsafe vehicle and risking public safety, he unhitched his trailer and left it behind in order to get warm. And as a result, his company fired him. When Judge Gorsuch ruled on that case, he sided with the trucking company.”
This quote either displays a shocking depth of ignorance about the American legal system, or a disgusting level of contempt for the intellectual abilities of his constituents. I’m not sure which is worse.
The point of an impartial judiciary is that it does NOT base rulings on the people involved in the case, but on the law as written by the legislative branch of government. To do it the other way throws us back to feudal times, when people weren’t treated equally under the law because certain favored groups had special privileges. When the Declaration says “all men are created equal” it doesn’t mean literally equal – obviously we’re not all the same height or wear the same shoe size – it means they’ll be treated as equals for all legal purposes. We don’t have a nobility that is exempt from the rules.
If the law says “it’s okay to fire someone who disobeys a lawful order,” and the company gave him a lawful order to stay with the truck, then his decision to abandon the truck was a firing offense and the company was in the right. What Senator Franken wants the court to do is re-write the law to add a section that the legislature did not include. He wants the judge to add a section saying “unless the employee has a good reason not to obey the lawful order.”
That is NOT the judge’s job. The judge’s job is to say “Based on these facts and this law, this is the result.” It might be a stupid law and therefore renders a stupid result, but that’s the legislature’s problem to fix. The judiciary is not a super-legislature.
I will give him this: adopting Franken’s idea would cut down on a lot of litigation. When the facts and law don’t matter, only the identity of the parties, there’s no need for a trial and witnesses. If a property management company brought an eviction action against a single mother based on non-payment of rent, the court could immediately dismiss the case and allow her to live there for free, forever, because in Franken’s world, ordinary American trumps business. If anybody filed a claim against an insurance company for any reason whatsoever, the claimant automatically would win because in Franken’s world, ordinary American trumps business. Things would get trickier if a Black lesbian single mother sued a left-handed transgendered illegal immigrant because the victim ranking is constantly shifting: who is the more victimized person and therefore the more worthy winner?
True, there would be an economic impact as businesses went bankrupt from meritless lawsuits. But a lot of lawyers would be freed up from litigation to engage in other worthy efforts, perhaps lobbying for stricter environmental regulations to take farmland out of production or stop the importation of oil and natural gas, things that would help save the planet so future generations of Americans could starve in the dark.
It’s good to have goals…