William Saturn: Supreme Court Vacancy Threatens Liberty

Antonin Scalia

William Saturn is a contributor for both American Third Party Report and Independent Political Report. The following was published on his website on February 29th:

Earlier this month, a new threat to liberty emerged as originalist Justice Antonin Scalia died in Texas, vacating his seat on the Supreme Court. On that day, the stakes of the 2016 presidential election grew exponentially.  Now, whoever gets elected will either maintain the status quo in the Court or create a new, more dangerous majority.

Though the U.S. Constitution is not necessarily a libertarian instrument, it guarantees several fundamental God-given liberties such as freedom of speech and the right to bear arms.  Conservative jurists like Antonin Scalia, more often than not, maintain the status quo of liberty. Modern progressives do not. While textualist conservatives see the Constitution as dead and the Court merely an institution to strike against unconstitutional government excess, modern progressives read words into a “living” Constitution to invent powers for government to restrict rights in the name of “fairness.”

The progressive Warren Court’s expansion of individual rights and civil liberties in the 1960’s was admirable, but modern progressives no longer share such values. Whereas the goal of traditional progressivism was the protection of civil liberties and the rights of dissenters, modern progressivism is more interested in promoting fairness at the expense of liberty. For example, the concept of political correctness has so-warped modern progressivism with the so-called “right not to be offended” that universities have shifted from beacons of free expression to echo chambers rivaling North Korea in suppression of free thought.

Some argue that a conservative Court would be just as liberty averse as a progressive Court.  I disagree.  The status quo is much less scarier than changes to interpret the law as one desires.  For example, in the recent Court decisions of Citizens United, and Heller, the progressive members of the Court dissented to clear cases upholding the rights of speech and gun ownership.  In both cases, just one vote would have shifted the balance and taken away fundamental rights.  In comparison to the malignant ideology of modern progressivism, conservatism is relatively benign.

A progressive Court will be able to approve massive sweeping changes to the way we exercise our rights. Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton agree with President Barack Obama’s abuse of executive powers. One can assume a President Clinton or President Sanders will also abuse executive powers, perhaps more so than Obama. An opposition Congress can do nothing to stop it. What can Congress do if President Clinton or President Sanders legislates gun control and speech bans from the oval office with a Supreme Court in his or her back pocket? Impeachment? I doubt it. Enough in Congress support the withering of our rights to block that.

The only solution will be on Election Day.  For the defense of liberty, the importance of not electing a modern progressive as President cannot be overstated.


4 responses to “William Saturn: Supreme Court Vacancy Threatens Liberty

  1. The “progressive Warren Court’s expansion of individual rights” is a myth and big error of interpretation. The main accomplishment of the Warren Court was the federalization of governmental racism. They took some of the governmental racism at the state level, e.g. “separate but equal” education, and changed it into governmental at the federal level, i.e. “affirmative action”. They transformed civil rights advocacy (having many good parts) into forcible “political correctness” (with a whole new set of individual suppressions). Calling this an “expansion of individual rights” is way off base.


    • I beg to differ.

      On civil liberties:

      • Mapp v. Ohio (incorporating the exclusion of illegally obtained evidence in state prosecutions)
      • Miranda v. Arizona (establishing Miranda rights)
      • Katz v. United States (expanding privacy rights)
      • Griswold v. Connecticut (protecting right to privacy in one’s own bedroom)

      On free speech:

      • Tinker v. Des Moines (protecting free speech of students)
      • New York Times v. Sullivan (establishing the actual malice standard of libel to protect the press)
      • Brandenburg v. Ohio (protecting speech advocating violence)


  2. You have missed or ignored the numerous cases that expanded the size and reach of the federal government. Throughout that era, Justices were primarily chosen who would not recognize the unconstitutionality of various government departments, agencies, and bureaucracies. There also was the repeated validations of the thugism of the Internal Revenue Service. The Warren Court repeatedly declined to take cases that would support individuals’ rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment. Warren and his close associates were dedicated activists for promoting and protecting unlimited government. Unlimited government is the worst enemy of individual rights.


    • It’d be great if you could cite some cases. Take note that I did not praise any government expansion under the Warren Court. Rather, I praised the expansion of individual rights and civil liberties. The cases I cited above are the most widely known cases from this period other than Brown to which you alluded. I agree that Brown expanded government through equal protection but it did not affect the exercise of the first or second amendments. If Brown is the price to pay for Tinker, NY Times, and Brandenburg, I’d make that exchange. But I’m not willing to cede Citizens United, Heller, or McCutcheon for any marginal civil liberties protections modern progressives may offer. The pendulum has shifted. Modern progressives no longer defend free speech or civil liberties to the extent they did under the Warren Court. A conservative Court is more likely to maintain fundamental rights.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s