Sadakat Kadri, an English Barrister who is also a licensed lawyer here in the states recently said something incredibly profound during an interview with Fresh Air. Kadri is a Muslim, and he made a direct comparison between the insane intransigent of the fundamentalists in his religion, and the immovable stupidity of those adhere to the “original intent” theory of analyzing Constitutional Law. Comparing the Wahabi Salafi ideology to those who promote the words of the “founding fathers” as a way to solve today’s legal quandaries might seem like a stretch, but frankly the decisions that come from these two ways of thinking are closer than we would like to acknowledge.
This year I enjoyed Constitutional Law more than any other class I have taken so far since starting Law School in 2010. I also realized just how incredibly intellectually dishonest this profession truly is. And who is the worst offender? Mr chucklehut himself Antonin Scalia. Take this quote for example:
I add the following: The “educational benefit” that the University of Michigan seeks to achieve by racial discrimination consists, according to the Court, of “ ‘cross-racial understanding,’ ” ante, at 18, and “ ‘better prepar[ation of] students for an increasingly diverse workforce and society,’ ”ibid., all of which is necessary not only for work, but also for good “citizenship,” ante, at 19. This is not, of course, an “educational benefit” on which students will be graded on their Law School transcript (Works and Plays Well with Others: B+) or tested by the bar examiners (Q: Describe in 500 words or less your cross-racial understanding). For it is a lesson of life rather than law–essentially the same lesson taught to (or rather learned by, for it cannot be “taught” in the usual sense) people three feet shorter and twenty years younger than the full-grown adults at the University of Michigan Law School, in institutions ranging from Boy Scout troops to public-school kindergartens. If properly considered an “educational benefit” at all, it is surely not one that is either uniquely relevant to law school or uniquely “teachable” in a formal educational setting.
This is Scalia supposedly destroying the idea that diversity has any relevance towards gaining a better understanding of the law or professional life in general. This is obviously his unsubstantiated personal opinion as well as something that is both incredibly ignorant and remarkably racist. However if you ask him he’ll probably pull some founding fathers bullshit to justify this sort drivel and the huge effect it will have on the national landscape of the law.
And this sort of travesty doesn’t end with this one opinion, not by a long shot. Our system of law is based on “stare decisis” or “precedent” as a way of stabilizing our democracy and preventing the judicial system from dominating the will of the people. Or at least that idea is what the court states as their reason when they make a decision that inflicts an unnecessary amount of pain on someone.
Maintaing the status quo however is something that is only necessary when it serves the personal needs of those in power sitting on the court, and therein lies the essential douchebaggery of the court. Policy-making is seen as a the dirty work of those who craft legislation, a task that is unworthy of the high intellects of people like Scalia or Thomas. But while we repeatedly are told that conservatives are working to prevent “activist judges”, it is this court that has worked to reestablish a series of failed policies and ideologies throughout American society. These decisions are made regardless of their consequences because damn the will of the people when there is a more important issue (the aristocracy) to maintain.
But intellectual dishonesty or extreme forms false equivalency are by no means the sole trick of the sociopaths currently on the Supreme Court. Everyday lawyers make specious arguments while judges hand down inherently biased opinions, and all of these actions are wrapped in the solemnity of “justice”. This profession that I seek to join is one where truth, objectivity, and morals are all expounded every day but never actually embraced.
We discuss principles that are not grounded in any quantitate form of science, yet we are required to argue that one inherent truth exists while consciously knowing that this is not true. The law’s flexibility is supposedly based on representing the important need to advocate for those in need, yet we are full of individuals who are just as greedy as the worst businessmen in capitalism. We demand ethics yet spend most of our time creating loopholes to avoid accountability.
I make these complaints about hypocrisy while still praying that I pass the bar next year and find a job that helps me pay my loans. I have largely embraced the inherent ambiguities of the law and in fact have frequently celebrated its inexactitudes to my colleagues. However I will continue to discount the extreme rigid adherence to the past as the sole way of determining the best solution for legal problems. Flexibility is key, and embracing change when it makes sense is something that we should encourage even when doing so violates the sanctify of this false church of precedent. Maintaining the status quo for the sake of preserving power for those who abuse others is never justifiable, even when done so upholds “the law”.