A Bully in the Ninth Circuit

There should be little surprise that President Trump has floated an idea to break up the Ninth Circuit. The suggestion corresponds to similar manipulations such as redistricting voting precincts or realigning Congressional districts to gain advantages in elections. It is the highest form of cheating in attempted political domination.

Practically everyone can recall a time in elementary school when the playground bully was team captain or the very best at something. To keep possession of the ball, court, or field, the bully had to keep winning. There were rare occasions when the bully did face a potentially embarrassing loss.

It was always on the brink of a momentous loss that the bully announced, “Rule Change!” Bullies are notoriously sore losers.

Planning to break up the Ninth Circuit is a rule change and a slap in the face to the residents of western states who tend to lean progressive. The west comprises a more sympathetic and accommodating aspect of the nation’s many faces — a nation that is built on diversity and a fundamental right to disagree. An attack on a judicial district that reflects those values is an attack on the very people themselves.

A sitting president is tasked with not only representing the many peoples of the nation, but also respecting them. While the president has a right to express conflicting opinion, he should not try to mold one of the largest population segments of the nation to suit a win-craving ego.

One of the central precepts of American democracy is that it is supposed to be representative. From time to time, it does fail. (As when a candidate who does not attain the popular vote goes on to win the Electoral College and thus gain the presidency as a majority loser).

The idea that controversy exists among the courts should be comforting to everyone, except perhaps the playground bully. Disagreement reaffirms that somewhere, someone in the government of this diverse nation shares an opinion with a common person. If every court catered to the executive branch as the president demands, America might indeed become slightly more Russian with one opinion and one opinion only Vassily.

There is a reason the judicial system is multi-tiered and procedurally complex. It allows that a disenchanted litigant has recourse to a multi-faceted appeal. As an American boasting of greatness, the president should set an example and utilize the judicial system like any other litigant. He should recognize and respect the judiciary and the slow, but effective process through the system’s bowels.

The path to finality in the U.S. court system is not a journey of instant gratification for ex-reality show hosts. Even an ultimate ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States is not etched in stone. The paradigm of justice fluctuates with the nine Justices of the high court. The courts are like the weather, and the old saying about waiting five minutes…except the five minutes might be five decades. This is the system established by men wiser than one president is. It is not perfect, but it is a necessary feature of a democracy that America heralds around the globe.

Playground bullies hate to lose. When threatened, they will invariably try to change the rules to leverage an advantage. However, the playground is for everyone and not only the bully. As the president speaks more and more about changing the rules in order to win, maybe it’s time for the nation to pay more attention to the First Lady’s soft-spoken words on bullying. There is a reason she chose that platform…

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