This space is reserved primarily for those who, in our judgment, abuse their public trust and do so with impunity. They are rarely, if ever, held accountable. If they apologize it is invariably too little, too late. And have you noticed that most don’t apologize for what they said, only for how they said it? The Doghouse is also reserved for movies, commercials, and other media, including video games that abuse their public space.
Most of our Doghouse human candidates are serial offenders. Their offenses are not one-offs, as the Brits say, and they are not momentary lapses of judgment. Rather, they are continual call-outs and deliberate actions intended to be cruel and hurtful, with not a small measure of narcissism. Most of our media candidates push the limits of common decency.
Our first Doghouse resident is one of the Supremes, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia. The big problem with Scalia is that he works for the judicial branch of government that is supposed to be objective, deliberative, fair and driven by precedent and formal interpretations of the Constitution, not by partisan political talk or narrowly segmented code words. It is one thing for five justices to vote a straight political line on partisan matters as they have regularly since Bush vs. Gore in 2000. It is another matter to sport individual partisan opinions quando gli fa comodo, when it suits him, as Scalia does repeatedly,
Like the other eight justices, Scalia is obligated to set his personal feelings and preferences aside and work collaboratively with the other judges to deliberate and vote on an opinion. However, numerous times, Scalia has not done this. Most recently, during recent Supreme Court oral arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, Justice Antonin Scalia called a key part of the Voting Rights Act, Section 5, a “racial entitlement.” (Section 5 requires that the Justice Department or a federal court “pre-clear” any changes made to voting procedures by covered jurisdictions to ensure they do not “deny or abridge the right to vote on account of race or color.” These jurisdictions are mostly in the South, surprise, surprise. )
This case comes to the court at a time when 14 states,13 with Republican governors, changed, or attempted to change, voting requirements last year. The changes travel under the cover of “preventing voting fraud” that in reality doesn’t exist. There is no voting fraud, or none to speak of. The intent of these new requirements is to limit or encumber the voting of minorities and older voters who tend to vote Democratic. Consequently the Justice Department and some lower courts have blocked the enforcement of these changes.
Scalia, however, pops off and says that Congress will not change Section 5 and that the failure of the Supreme Court to do so (judicial activism) will amount to a “perpetuation of racial entitlements”, code for something unearned for Black folks. Two huge problems here. First, voting is a right in a democracy, not an entitlement. Second, the troubling word “perpetuation”, suggests that this so-called “entitlement” has been going on too long. Section 5 has been Constitutional since 1965 and now it’s not?
As Marc H. Morial, former mayor of New Orleans and now president and CEO of the National Urban League puts it: “This act was established to fix a broken system, and it remains relevant today. As long as blatant voter suppression measures such as voter ID laws and district gerrymandering are being used to keep certain groups from the polls, the Voting Rights Act – in its entirety – remains necessary. Let’s be clear: voting “rights” are indeed that – a right guaranteed to every citizen of the United States. They are not a special privilege. They are not a gift. And they certainly don’t constitute a “racial entitlement.”
So Scalia, you are entitled to be in our doghouse. We’ll consider letting you out after the Court has issued a ruling later this year. However, if your opinion is part of the majority ruling, well, we hope you like our Doghouse, because you’ll be there for a long time to come.