Jeffrey Toobin is a lawyer who writes for the New Yorker and appears on cable news shows, portraying a legal expert of sorts. Which is why I was surprised to see this in a recent column of his:
So there is some irony in Kennedy’s decision, last week, to turn over his precious seat on the Supreme Court to the least dignified man ever to serve as President.
Toobin had just noted that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s favorite word was “dignity.” He’d used it nine times in an opinion he wrote in the 2015 ruling that guaranteed the right of same-sex marriage in all fifty states.
I thought Toobin would circle back to further explore the irony of Kennedy’s gift to the undignified Donald Trump. But he merely stated the obvious — Trump will choose someone more consistently right-wing to replace Kennedy. Someone who will “tarnish” his legacy.
My first thought was “What legacy”? When did Kennedy ever take the side of working people against the rich and powerful? He voted against his right-wing colleagues on gay rights and abortion rights, but surely he knows his decision to step down on July 31 will give right-wingers just enough time to appoint someone who will work to scuttle those rights.
This would seem to indicate he’s ignoring the main story. The question is why. My guess is that Toobin is too much of a mainstream tight-ass to mention the possibility that Kennedy is as corrupt as all the other people who have chosen to play ball with Trump.
It seems Toobin would have us believe the myth of the Supremes — that all of them are eminent and distinguished and dignified, when in fact most are merely lawyers who went to good schools (usually) and rose through talent (sometimes) and luck to a place where they could wield great power.
Footnote: Last week I naively speculated that Kennedy’s loyalty to the Republican Party may have won out over his commitment to individual rights. But now it seems his greater loyalty may have been to Trump, not the party.
One more: The best piece I’ve seen on this subject was by Michael Tomaski and was headlined “Anthony Kennedy, you are a total disgrace to America.” Pretty blunt, but I’ll take blunt truth over civility any day.