When I was a kid, I got in trouble (a couple of times, but there was this one time…) In truth, I had done nothing wrong, but I got caught up in a drug deal I had nothing to do with. The damaging evidence was planted by the police (I witnessed that and reported it to my public defense lawyer, who told me that’s how it works). In public, the judge was judgmental and stern, but reasonably well behaved. But there was a moment where I was sentenced, unofficially, to get a stern talking to by him in his chambers, instead of a severe actual sentence. In his chambers, he was a pompous ass. He stood to pace in his opulent office while lecturing me, and decided to re-tie his perfectly tied shoe. When he lifted his foot up to the seat of a chair, his robe fell open, and exposed … the handgun strapped to his leg. What an ass.
A couple of other times, such as in an unemployment dispute for example, the judge was an ass. In my life I learned that low level judges tend to be assholes. Perhaps that is my bad luck and not truly representative, but my experience shapes my opinion. I’ve never had the pleasure of standing in court, or in chambers, before a higher level judge. Maybe the higher level judges are not assholes, who knows.
When the right wing Trump/McConnell stacked supreme court ruined the Constitution and started America on its retraction of human rights long held and hard fought for, a lot of people were surprised. I think everyone expected the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, but I’m not sure most people expected them to lay out a road map for the retraction of most personal rights, which would be a necessary condition for the deployment of a full-on fascist government led in two years from now by Donald Trump, the real estate robber baron. (With the Proud Boys as his palace guard and Q-Anon as his brown shirts.) But I wasn’t that surprised, because I already knew that the judicial branch at the lowest levels had more assholes than the Russian Army.
Why do we revere our judicial branch? Our criminal justice system is unjust and has been for the entire history of this country. The judicial branch has been run by judges this entire time. Seems to me like this makes judges, by and large, even those with nice personalities, essentially assholes.
The most widely disseminated and widely listened to opinions about how judges are worthy of praise, trustworthy, important centers of civilization, etc, come from lawyers. Lawyers are self selected, then further culled by law school, many if not most spend almost no time in the presence of judges, so there is a great deal of further selection among them that do. Those litigators are a subset of people further subsetted, further subsetted, further subsetted, to work with, appreciate, and live by virtue of the existence of … judges. So of course lawyers say of judges what fish mongers may say of fish. Meanwhile there are fish that are complete assholes, and there are judges that are complete assholes. More, percentage-wise, judges than fish, I would judge.
The Republican Revolution is the takeover of our legislative branches by assholes. Started with Gingrich, continuing today, and with Trump, likely joined soon enough by the Executive branch. If and when Trump wins the presidency in a couple of years, and the Senate and House go Extremist Asshat, like is about to happen according to some polling, the executive branch and the legislative branch will join the judicial branch to become a trifecta of imperfection, a triumvirate of terror, a trinity of self-centered fascist demagogues.
One could argue that the judicial branch has been most of the way there all along, and this has been one of America’s best kept secrets. The transition of judges to moderators of a Gestapo-state will require the removal of those remaining judges who still believe in democracy, but judges take care of their own, and they will figure out a way to do that.
Keep this in mind: The courtroom is the opposite of a democracy. A courtroom is ruled with an iron fist. In their own courtroom, each judge has the final word, and can choose whom to give voice, and can choose what they may say and not say. Find a definition of fascism and apply it to a courtroom. It will fit nicely. The lawyers, observers, others, who work in that context and extoll the virtues of judges as fair, thoughtful, whatever, are to this fascism what the fish is to the water: they don’t realize that part of their world exists, so they don’t point it out, they don’t criticize it.
The judicial branch will be the first of three, not the third of three, branches of our government to turn full on Mussolini.
Mussolini was an asshole.