Michael N. Searles



Reason takes on many faces and some of them are ugly. We like to believe that our actions are governed by principle and good judgment. Voting in the U.S. Senate is an example of the disconnect between reason and politics.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson received bipartisan support from the U.S. Senate for both a District Judge seat and an Appellate Judgeship. On February 25, 2022, President Joe Biden nominated Jackson to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, filling the vacancy created by Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement. Judge Brown Jackson graduated from Harvard University and Harvard Law School with honors. She served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review. She had a clerkship on each level of the federal judiciary. She was vice chair of the United States Sentencing Commission and served as a public defender.

Her qualifications exceeded several of the currently serving Justices of the Supreme Court. Also it is noteworthy that the confirmation of Ketanji

Brown Jackson made her the first black women to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Brown Jackson received the unanimous well-qualified endorsement of the American Bar Association as well as the support of the three major law enforcement organizations. A number of conservative Republican Senators publicly stated that Judge Brown Jackson was qualified for the office she sought, but most of those same Senators publicly stated they would not vote in favor of her confirmation. In 2005, Conservative Appeals Judge John Roberts was confirmed as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court with a 78-22 vote. All of the Senate Republicans and half of the Democrats voted for Roberts. While there were nine potential Republican swing voters in the Senate, Judge Brown Jackson was fortunate to receive three of them.

This is a prime example of what is wrong with our politics and governance. There were just a few Republicans willing to confirm one of the more qualified individuals ever nominated to the Supreme Court for fear of angering their party or their constituents. How have we come to a time that any vote the opposition party introduces or favors makes one a disloyal party member?

A house divided against itself cannot stand has biblical origins, but it was Abraham Lincoln who seared the phrase into our national consciousness. We currently live in a divided political house where little can be accomplished. The vast majority of Americans support universal background checks, yet Republicans in Congress refuse to support the legislation. Often the legislation that is passed does not have the endorsement of the American people. During the presidency of Donald J. Trump, the Republican-controlled Congress passed a tax-cut bill that added an estimated $2 trillion to the national debt over the next decade. While the Republican Congress fully endorsed the legislation, only about 30 percent of Americans did so. The American people however did support raising the minimum wage, background checks for gun sales, and action on climate. Yet Republicans turn a blind eye to these and other legislative actions supported by a large majority of Americans.

Compromise has become a four-letter word in the political lexicon. Most Americans, however, want government to work and want the two political parties to compromise and get things done. American democracy has suffered from refusing to do or even acknowledging the desires of the people. Many Americans have accepted the reality that government cannot or will not make their lives better and have placed their faith in a political novice who said, “I Alone Can Fix It.” Hopefully, we have not passed the point of no return and can right the ship of state.

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