The Current State of Justice

            Several stories in the news this past week have given me pause about the nature of justice in our country and whether Americans can feel like the justice system serves them. From what I have seen there is reason for concern.

            First, as we all know by now, former President Trump was indicted on charges of falsifying business records to aid in his election campaign of 2016. Nobody could doubt that the underlying facts involving a hush-money payment and a porn star are tawdry.

            But let’s be honest, that type of behavior has been going on since Adam and Eve. People lie about their affairs, and they go to extremes to keep others from learning about it. To put the existence of our democracy in greater peril over this type of behavior is short-sighted and foolhardy. Add the fact that the entire prosecution appears partisan on its face, and it is easy to see why half the country is appalled by the prosecution.

            The matter is not simply about Donald Trump. It is about America’s place in the world and how we intend to govern ourselves. Partisan differences are not more important than the fate of our democracy, obviously.

            I’d issue a pardon, if I had the power, and move on from the mess. Each of us has already made our decision on how President Trump conducted himself. We can voice that decision at the ballot box next year.

            The second story that is disturbing was the removal of two young black representatives from the Tennessee House of Representatives for engaging in a disruptive protest on the House floor. If our representatives cannot raise protest on the House floor, where exactly is the place to do so? The story is about the deterioration of race relations, the gerrymandered power structures of our legislatures that favor old white men, and the continued erosion of our most valuable First Amendment rights. I am not sure how the story ends, but I suspect it will result in vindication for the rights of the protesting legislators and lasting humiliation for those who voted to oust them. I hope so at least, for the good of our country.

            Finally, a story came out earlier in the week from ProPublica that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has accepted millions of dollars in gifts and travel from a well-connected millionaire political contributor.  It stinks. It may not be illegal. It may not run afoul of Court ethics rules because the Court has not seen fit to create any rules, but it looks like the Justice can be bought. And that does not bode well for creating trust in our justice system.

            Serving on the highest court in the land is a privilege. Anyone who serves deserves great honor and respect for taking on the awesome responsibility. But with that privilege and responsibility comes the obligation to be pristine in one’s dealings publicly and privately so no stain of perceived corruption can ever attach. Justice Thomas has failed that standard, and he knows it.

            If he wants to travel on super yachts and private jets and earn millions of dollars, the opportunities avail themselves. But he should give up the robe to do so.

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