June 6, 2015
The Nation magazine turns 150 this year. To note the event, it prepared a large anniversary issue which combined new material with reprints from its long history. One of the latter is an article from 1933 entitled "If the Supreme Court Objects," which has some resonance as we anticipate the Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell. The article noted this question:
It is often and pertinently asked what the United States Supreme Court will say about the constitutionality of some of the Roosevelt measures. Certainly there are at least three reactionary old men on that bench who would take profound satisfaction in standing by their plutocratic concepts of society if they knew the mob was battering at the door, and there may be more than three.
The author suggested that the court could be enlarged (something Roosevelt later threatened) "to permit the appointment of additional Justices whose ideas developed subsequent to the year 1880." He acknowledged the undesirability of tampering with the Court, but predicted that "the present Administration . . . will never permit the whole economic structure of this country to be disrupted and demoralized because less than a half a dozen dyspeptic old men are determined to uphold precedents established before the invention of the telephone."
The Supreme Court again has more than three members who take a plutocratic view of society (case in point: Citizens United) and whose general approach to jurisprudence is reactionary. We do not, however, have an administration with either the inclination or the skill to bring pressure, and popular support for the ACA hardly reaches the mob-at-the-door level. We must hope for a defection from the ranks.
Staying with the theme of adaptable quotes, here’s a source I ran across a few days ago. The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare, in an article entitled "Authorship Controversy," discusses "the curious and seemingly unstoppable" attempts to persuade us "that Shakespeare’s works were not written by Shakespeare." It notes that, despite the lack of any basis for the various theories, "commentators have paid reluctant tribute to the sheer determination and ingenuity which anti-Stratfordian writers have displayed. . . . Most observers, however, have been more impressed by the anti-Stratfordians' dogged immunity to documentary evidence . . . ." That reminds one of certain politicians and pundits: sheer determination to ignore facts. On that topic, one Shakespeare scholar is quoted as follows: "One thought perhaps offers a crumb of redeeming comfort. The energy absorbed by the mania might otherwise have gone into politics." Would that contemporary conservatives were who-wrote-Shakespeare nuts.
60. Paul Y. Anderson, The Nation 150th Anniversary, p. 8761. Oxford Companion, p.31