Partisanship: the “True Enemy of the People”
How the Partisan Divide has Infected Even the Most Coveted Apolitical Branches of Our Government
By Amelia Killackey and Maya Gomes
President Donald Trump once called the media the “true enemy of the people” after they published bad press about him. These comments have been a hallmark of his presidency, the pointing of a finger at the ‘other group,’ the labeling, name-calling, and drawing of lines that divide our country instead of building it up. In those actions, we can see the ‘true enemy’ of America, and it isn’t the media. It’s all of us.
It is the way that our politicians, our activists, and our leaders have drawn such stark lines that people feel that they can only identify as blue or red. It is in the way that this constant struggle, blue vs. red, has bled into the core of our government, into every decision our leaders make. It is in the way that allegiance to a party has, for lack of a better word, trumped every obligation our leaders have; their duty to their people and morals, and their commitment to the truth.
This partisan political system has, unfortunately, found its way into areas that we depend on being apolitical, independent systems. It’s found a home in our judiciary system; the branch of government created to exist outside the world of blue and red. The founders intended for the Supreme Court to focus only on making sure we are all conducting ourselves in an ethical manner.
President Donald Trump brought this problem to light in his recent comments about a Ninth Circuit judge in California that blocked his attempts to stop immigrants from seeking asylum, calling him an “Obama judge” and saying that judicial decisions are “not going to happen like this anymore.”
While Trump’s hope that judges remain apolitical is understandable, his comments are hypocritical considering the partisan circumstances his own Supreme Court appointee, Brett Kavanaugh, found himself in this past September.
Not only does Judge Kavanaugh have a long history of being involved in conservative political campaigns, including his position in the Ken Starr investigations, but during his hearing concerning the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh stated that the investigation has “been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election.”
Kavanaugh then went further, calling the investigation “revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups”.
Kavanaugh’s mention of the Clintons is, to many, a subtle allusion to the democratic party which the couple has become so prevalent within. These comments largely mirror President Trump’s attack first, attack hard strategy that has increased the toxic divide that threatens our country.
There is no dispute that Brett Kavanaugh is a highly partisan individual. Despite his appalling accusations towards the Democrats and shocking lack of judicial disposition, he was rewarded by the republican-lead senate with a seat on the Supreme Court.
But this unfortunate lack of an independent judiciary did not start with Brett Kavanaugh and Donald Trump. We saw it back in 2016 when Merrick Garland was nominated by President Barack Obama to the Supreme Court. The Republican-dominated Senate at the time blocked his nomination and refused to hold a hearing to formally recognize him as a candidate. This move by the Republicans was unprecedented and blatantly partisan. This act of partisanship opened the door to Donald Trump’s ever-worsening attacks on the independence of the judiciary.
Ultimately, while Trump’s comments on Obama judges may have shed light on the despairing state of our judiciary, it did not create it. Chief Justice Roberts of the Supreme Court’s rebuke of Trump, where he stated that “we do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges, … [but] an independent judiciary [that] we should all be thankful for” is an idealistic, yet ultimately false claim.
Sadly, the actions of our government and party leaders over the past couple of years have disproven Chief Justice Robert’s statement. There are indeed Trump Judges, Obama Judges, Bush Judges, and Clinton Judges. But the judiciary is not at fault. The two-party system rooted in the legislative and executive branches have shown us time and time again that partisanship will prevail.
The comments of Justice Roberts might not be true right now, but that does not mean they are a mere impossibility. His comments represent what our court system should look like, what it could look like if we all made the effort. So we must make the effort remove partisan divide from our judiciary because the integrity of both our courts and country depend on it.