The Justice Parcel
From all accounts Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a formidable person. Tough in her beliefs, tough in her delivery, tough in her faithfulness to her oath of office. She was a human being so she will not have been perfect but her achievements for others far outweighed her successes for herself. If we can leave the world saying that, we have lived a good life. Justice Ginsburg had a good life.
Justice all over the world is in a state of flux. It happens when the even tenor of life is disrupted by forces beyond the control of any human institution. This is a time when the constitution needs its rock solid certainty, when faith, if it can do its job, is asked to fill the gaps of doubt, when survival battles with superiority for recognition as the all-demanding aim. Any thinking species will stare at the mirror in the hope of finding truth. Any silver-back will ask ‘what did I do?’ ‘what can I do?’
We like parcels. Not just for our sandwiches for the office or building site but to solve all our difficulties. Have a problem – say, a pandemic? Parcel it up and give it to the World Health Organisation or to the Ministry of Health or to God. They deal with those kinds of parcels. It’s the same with political problems. When they get beyond the reach of political minds – necessarily short-term and opportunist – we parcel them up for the Justice Department. They will be around longer, won’t be whimsically voted out – or in – by a change of wind direction.
Justice rides storms better than democracy.
Our expectations of justice are way above those of even the most elevated of religious leaders, out of sight of political discourse. They are in the realms of the deepest philosophies, the most esoteric science, the most academic disciplines. We want what maybe we cannot have – a foundation unshakable by climate, impervious to virus and supportive to, yet corrective of, human frailty. It is much to ask from mortals like ourselves. And yet, justice demands that we seek it.
The politically honest – and there are plenty of people who are – will admit to longing for the certainty that would come with true justice. Substitutes are found, of course, though never satisfactory ones. Power is the first refuge of the desperate. Power and control. Both corrupt. Hedonism follows swiftly behind these cudgels of ascendancy, its fleeting reassurances soon disappearing into the clouds of night.
To leave something as evidence of truth is enough to satisfy most people. Charles Newbold left us the plough, Winston Churchill, the pictures he painted. Neither was the greatest in his creation. Both were true. Lindberg gave us one long journey, Armstrong, one short step. Ruth Bader Ginsburg left us fidelity to law. Now we have nominee Amy Coney Barrett to fill a role of supreme importance for the future of justice. Never has there been such a need for rigorous intellect to be combined with a view of the pathway ahead. It would be a demanding role for anyone.
Justice Barrett seems to be a thoroughly decent person with a strong personal faith which she has declared will be subject to the constitution she is to serve and will seek truth beyond any personal predilections. We must accept that as our part of the good faith necessary to make the Supreme Court work. If it doesn’t we will see chaos of a sort unimaginable even five years ago. The planet, let alone the people, cannot afford such crippling damage now.
We offer support and hope and love for what may be the weightiest appointment in the world. We pray that the search for truth takes another strong step forward with Amy. We acknowledge that the role is not only hers. We have much to offer to her success.
No one person, no single institution can carry the burden alone today.
It is time to unwrap the parcel and see what each of us is expected to contribute.