The US Constitution explicitly outlines the causes and procedures for impeachment of the President and other ministers of the US government, e.g., Supreme Court Justices. These are the so-called “impeachment clauses”. (Other parts of the Constitution deal with impeachment, but this is the most relevant for present purposes). Prof. Alan Dershowitz, despite being unfairly perceived as being contaminated through association with Fox News, has performed a valuable service, especially in books like Trumped Up: How the Criminalization of Political Differences Endangers Democracy, by urgently advising against the weaponization of political differences, and even free speech, as tools to further purely political ends. As anyone knows who has followed my “Skeptic’s Collection” columns over th
I invite my fellow progressives / leftists to please feel free to vote me off the Island for saying the following, but ... in the interest of fairness, it should be said that acting AG Matthew Whitaker is right in a certain sense about Marbury v. Madison. To be sure, Matthew Whitaker is indeed a crackpot, and his own utterances, both written and spoken, amply justify that description. But let's be fair to broken clocks: even they are right twice a day. (The full text of Marbury can be found here; a very literate, enlightening, and even-handed summary, here.) The Constitution’s Article III is rather ambiguous, not about the scope of the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction, but about how “hard-coded” that original jurisdiction is in the Constitution. There are two questions at issue.
I originally intended to publish a column on the 1803 Supreme Court decision Marbury v. Madison last week, 22 November. In fact, I had the column finished, edited, and scheduled when Diane read what I had written and suggested that, instead of publishing the Marbury column then, that perhaps I should preface the Marbury column with a much more autobiographical “Skeptic’s Collection” column (1) narrating how I had become interested in that landmark case in order to (2) give some context for the Marbury column itself, and then (3) subsequently publish the Marbury column the Thursday after – as it turns out, 6 December. Diane’s suggestion was very astute. So the following is a kind of intellectual autobiography of my very-much-ongoing love affair with Marbury v. Madison. Quixotic as it n