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Workable solutions

May 22, 2023

The debt ceiling and Supreme Court ethics are not insoluble problems, I can solve them.

Milt Policzer

By Milt Policzer

Courthouse News columnist; racehorse owner and breeder; one of those guys who always got picked last.

I have ideas. I can solve problems. Why aren’t national and world leaders coming to me for solutions?

It’s a mystery.

Fortunately, I have this world-renowned forum that you’re reading right now so I can get the word out. Here is some of my current advice.

Solve the debt ceiling crisis with a nifty double-cross. President Biden needs to agree to everything the Republicans want in exchange for avoiding a world financial crisis. World financial crises, after all, are not usually a good thing.

Then when the debt ceiling law and the new Republican budget gets to his desk, Biden signs the extension and vetoes the budget.

Own the cons!

This, of course, will spark real outrage (as opposed to the normal fake outrage) from the right. Harsh words will be spoken.

At this point, a media barrage featuring video of Republican positions, past and present, must be unleashed. I’d lead with Mitch McConnell insisting that no Supreme Court justice can be confirmed in the last year of a presidency.

This will all be great fun.

Solve the Supreme Court ethics problem with litigation. No, I’m not talking about regular people or even Congress suing justices. Supreme Court justices should be sued by other Supreme Court justices.

We’ve had a sort of precedent for this strategy filed earlier this month on behalf of a Federal Circuit court judge named Pauline Newman against the rest of her circuit.

I know this suit over whether the court’s Judicial Council can take cases away from a judge for being ancient and/or allegedly decrepit is the opposite of what the Supreme Court needs, but the idea of internecine litigation is a good one.

The Supreme Court justices definitely have standing — emotional distress caused by everyone hating the Supreme Court should be enough.

In theory, once this complaint is filed, all the justices should recuse themselves and allow a perhaps-sane lower court judge who is secretly extremely jealous that they don’t have their own billionaire friend hear the case.

Unfortunately, as we know, Supreme Court justices would rather not recuse themselves from anything. So they’ll have to both argue and judge the arguments against each other.

At the very least, this will keep them occupied so they’re doing less damage.

Ageless truths. As a relatively old person (depending on your definition of old) myself, I’m not inclined to generalize about people’s ability to do their jobs based on their age. I still feel pretty lively and coherent although it’s certainly possible that dementia has set in and I’m imagining writing this.

If this is real and you are reading this, I have to point out at least one odd passage in the Judge Newman suit against her colleagues on the court. There seems to be a dispute as to whether the judge had a heart attack:

“Had Judge Newman suffered a heart attack, it would be extremely unusual for anyone, let alone a 94-year-old person, to serve throughout that period without skipping a beat (so to speak). Besides which, even were the allegation true, having coronary artery disease is simply irrelevant to one’s ability to be able to carry out judicial functions.”

Unless, of course, you drop dead. I’m no doctor, but I’m thinking maybe coronary artery disease might have some effect on ability.

Kudos, by the way, for the heartbeat pun. I would have added that Newman would be heartbroken if she lost her job.

The complaint also weighs in on separation of powers — it says only Congress, under the Constitution, can impeach a federal judge and taking work away amounts to impeachment.

So being paid to do nothing is the same as being fired?

We’re going to get some interesting precedents in this case — but only if the judge is as healthy and long-lasting as she thinks.

I probably shouldn’t have to note this but I’m going to anyway: the judge, a Reagan appointee, is being represented by something called New Civil Liberties Alliance, a group whose website describes it as a “nonpartisan” civil rights group that seems interested only in challenging government agency regulations.

Make of that what you will.


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