The Supreme Court’s processed mind

That most Supreme Court members went to one of the same Northeast Ivy League law schools makes a mockery of Jefferson’s America; we have become a nation of world tribes rather than regions. From the Jeffersonian perspective schools like U. Minnesota, Vanderbilt, U. Texas at Austin, U. Virginia, U. Michigan, all in the top 20 should be included. And Brigham Young, Wake Forest and UNC not far behind. The current composition of the court illustrates an America afraid of itself and constantly defaulting to the absurd illusion of 19th-century New England royal families. This is not authentic self-government. It is imitation of perceived gentry.

Are Yale and Harvard better law schools? How, then, could a Yale Law School grad like Hillary Clinton not have passed the D.C. law boards directly after graduation? Surely plenty of Howard School of Law grads passed. And why can't we see the board scores and grades of these public servants? We have reached the edge of the spectrum when a sitting president can nominate his receptionist to be a Supreme Court justice, as George W. Bush did. And to be frank, at least one of these justices seems as dumb as a post. Possibly he speaks for the silent majority, as he never opens his mouth.

As my favorite former Black Panther, the most eloquent H. Rap Brown, once said about something else, there are too many people today with natural hair and processed minds. And possible nowhere else in government apparatus are the minds so collectively narrowly and provincially processed as in the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist, the original “Tenther” and spirit father of the states’ rights movement, stands today as a titan among clerks. It was he who opened the gate to the Tea Party before it got into the hands of Glenn Beck, Dick Armey and Newt Gingrich and became a garden-variety rant. But first concerns were states’ rights and regional responsibility.

“Will the Rehnquist Court’s federalism revolution outlast the Rehnquist Court?” asked legal columnist for The New York Times Linda Greenhouse back in 2005. “If Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist retires this summer, as appears likely, the court's ruling last week that federal drug law trumps states on the use of medical marijuana will be its last word on federal-state relations during his tenure.”

A hallmark of the Rehnquist court has been a re-examination of the country's most basic constitutional arrangements, she writes, resulting in decisions that demanded a new respect for the sovereignty of the states and placed corresponding restrictions on the powers of Congress.

But it is with some irony that new groups like The Tenth Amendment Center and sovereignty movements here in northern New England began just at the same time, in 2005. And potentially Rehnquist’s theme will rise now to the presidency with Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

But in the rush to cut spending, Tea Party populism has led North Carolina to make the misguided decision to defund its Governor’s School. It is the kind of narrow thinking that sends the best and brightest of the regions to be processed in New England.

Schools like the North Carolina Governor’s School, which gather the bright and motivated best of the state to work together in the summer, greatly contribute to state and regional identity, building an indigenous business and culture elite. Any state or region which still has this natural affinity to place should cherish and nurture it. It is this which forms the natural state as Jefferson intended.

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