One word answer: Bedazzled.
I had a lot of gun control ideas along this line but the New York State Legislature beat me to it — at amazing speed.
Still, I want to offer the Bedazzled lesson as lanolin* for our chafed raw souls. Not only because it’s one of the funniest movies ever made, but because the plot is a model of how to defeat this Supreme Court.
We have Stanley (played by Dudley Moore), a haplessly inarticulate dolt who flips hamburgers in a London greasy spoon joint. He is madly in love with Margaret, a haughty waitress (Eleanor Bron), but can’t manage any sort of approach to her without encountering withering rejection.
So Stanley tries to kill himself, but is “saved” by an impossibly urbane Devil (Peter Cook) (using George as his nom de provocateur). For reasons involving a contract he has with the Almighty, George needs souls, and Stanley is willing to sell his soul in exchange for winning the heart (and body) of Margaret. Ergo, George grants Stanley seven wishes, which Stanley uses to achieve Margaret.
Only a few fucked-up wishes in does George remind Stanley that, as the Chief Malefactor, he’s bound to take advantage of every loophole, every slit in Stanley’s wish statements. So, although Stanley aptly identifies the holes in each of his wishes, and thinks he’s sealed them, he’s left other holes elsewhere.
And here’s where the solution to the relentless nightmare our current Supreme Court has dragged us screaming into. Flip the Bedazzled characters upside down. View the Supreme Court as a dimwitted but vicious Stanley, whose rush to sexual success with Margaret causes him to leave gaps in the logic of his aspirational wishes.
So who plays the Devil in my scenario? Genuinely intelligent legal scholars and law-writers who see the Constitutional holes in the Six’s reasoning, and can slip through them, turn around and seal them up with legislation, just as my own State legislature did.
So see the movie which Google tells me is playing on a couple of oddly named channels available on Roku.
But more important, read Jamelle Bouie’s calm analysis of some portions of our Constitution. His Times essay, “The Supreme Court Is the Final Word on Nothing,” soothed me down.
Here are a couple of paragraphs, lanolin for my brain — and for my bolding:
…the Constitution tells us that the court’s appellate jurisdiction is subject to “such Exceptions” and “under such Regulations” as “the Congress shall make.”
This is where it gets interesting. The court’s appellate jurisdiction accounts for virtually everything it touches. And the Constitution says that Congress can regulate the nature of that jurisdiction. Congress can strip the court of its ability to hear certain cases, or it can mandate new rules for how the court decides cases where it has appellate jurisdiction. And as I recently mentioned, it can even tell the court that it needs a supermajority of justices to declare a federal law or previous decision unconstitutional.
I’ve read the Constitution a number of times. Why didn’t the Guarantee Clause register with me?
What is a dead letter (and which I’ve also written about before) is the Guarantee Clause of the Constitution, which states that
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.
A Congress that wanted to could, in theory, use the Guarantee Clause to defend the basic rights of citizens against overbearing and tyrannical state governments. It’s been done before. After the Civil War, Radical Republicans in Congress found their constitutional power to reconstruct the South chiefly in the Guarantee Clause, which they used to protect the rights of Black Americans from revanchist state governments.
…the Republic is not defenseless. The Constitution gives our elected officials the power to restrain a lawless Supreme Court, protect citizens from the “sinister legislation” of the states, punish those states for depriving their residents of the right to vote and expel insurrectionists from Congress.
They are drastic measures that would break the norms of American politics. They might even spark a constitutional crisis over the power and authority of Congress.
But let’s not be naïve. The norms of American politics were shattered when Donald Trump organized a conspiracy to subvert the presidential election. They were shattered again when he sent an armed mob of supporters to attack the Capitol and stop Congress from certifying the votes of the Electoral College. And they were shattered one more time in the early hours of the next day, when, even after all that, 147 of his congressional allies voted to overturn election results.
As for the constitutional crisis, it is arguably already here.
See what I mean?
*Lanolin has been determined by dermatologists to be the best emollient. Consequently, since no commercial bath oil brand contains much, I make my own. Here’s how:
- Buy a small, cheap pot and baby oil.
- Get a couple of jars of pure lanolin on line.
- Melt the lanolin slowly in the cheap pot. When it is fully melted, add enough baby oil to make it even more liquid and mix the two together. A chopstick is good for this.
- When cool, put it into a jar (with a top or pump top).
- Apply it in small amounts after your shower or bath but before you towel off.
It is much less expensive than commercial bath oil and so much better. Your skin will never be dry again.