Why Progressives Attack the Supreme Court
Progressives in America really despise the Supreme Court now. They hate it. They call it illegitimate. They want to impeach conservative justices for anything and everything. Why? Simple: The Supreme Court as currently constituted upholds the rule of law against the totalitarian lust of the will to power.
Political philosophy is very important, more important than its counterfeit child called political science. Political philosophy can be broken down into two traditions, the classical and the modern. The differences between the two are critical to understand in today’s political debates around the Supreme Court.
The classical tradition of political philosophy begins with the establishment of law as a reflection of nature. This begets the natural law and natural rights conception of politics to which the American Revolution and Founding Fathers adhered. The protection of natural law and natural rights is therefore embodied in the rule of law. The Supreme Court, as we know, is meant to be the institutional guardian of the rule of law which means it is the guardian of natural law and natural rights.
The modern tradition of political philosophy begins with the assertion of the rule of will. This comes to us by men like Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, and others. Modern political ideology is also antagonistic toward nature; it believes nature to be malleable, or changeable, and that man has the power through science, industry, and will power to fundamentally transform nature to something new. Modern political philosophy is about the will to power, the will to transform.
Because the Supreme Court exists as the guardian of the rule of law, and therefore the natural law and natural rights, which stands against the rule of will, progressives hate the Supreme Court and want the Supreme Court destroyed. Progressivism is the embodiment of modern political philosophy. It is all about the rule of will. Thus, progressivism naturally clashes with the Supreme Court’s judicial philosophy of rule of law, natural law, and natural rights.
Conservatism, which seeks to defend the rule of law, natural law, and natural rights must necessarily be seen as the enemy by progressives. Conservatism exists in total opposition to the rule of will with the understanding that the rule of will often leads to mob outrage and the tyranny that emanates from the mob (just read some Plato). Since progressivism isn’t about the rule of law but the triumph of the will, one sees the tactics employed by progressives from storming the Tennessee Capitol, to the BLM protests and the destruction of property, to Democrats praising attacks on Republican lawmakers. It’s all about will to power.
Since the spirit of progressivism controls most of the bureaucratic institutions of the American republic, there is an urgency in destroying the last bastions of the rule of law: the Supreme Court (and, for the moment, the House of Representatives).
This is why progressives constantly bemoan about the Supreme Court being illegitimate. By destroying the public’s belief in the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, this allows progressives to circumvent the rule of law. The rule of law is itself illegitimate if the very institution meant to uphold it is illegitimate! It’s a simple but highly effective strategy that is also aimed at riling up the masses for mob action – more will to power.
If this is not good enough, then impeach! Impeach! Impeach! Impeach! Of course, impeachment isn’t really about upholding the rule of law. It’s about the assertion of one’s political will over the rule of law. If one doesn’t like the current rulings of the Court, then just impeach the justices you don’t like. Triumph of the will.
It is important to defend the legitimacy of the Supreme Court because its legitimacy is bound to the rule of law, and with the rule of law natural law and natural rights. If the Supreme Court is destroyed, as progressives want, then the absence of the rule of law that comes with the desecration of the Supreme Court will bring the absolute rule of will across the country. However, not all wills are created equal. Only the will of progressivism will be permitted to rule.
The great lie that progressives promote, through their media machines, is that law is restrictive of freedom. This is contrary to all ancient and humanistic wisdom. The absence of law is not freedom but chaos, and chaos is the prerequisite for tyranny and injustice. Even that famous American hymn once known to many, “America the Beautiful,” sings of “thy liberty in law.” Law permits the natural flourishing of human nature to take root and blossom. But since modern political philosophy also denies nature, all that is left is the irascible will.
The assault on the Supreme Court is all about the will to power and the destruction of the rule of law. The rule of law stands athwart the lustful will and its desire to dominate. The rule of law and its upholding by the Supreme Court is the antithesis of everything progressivism desires. Therefore, no matter the cost, no matter the destruction, no matter the harm, progressivism must assail the Supreme Court.
Paul Krause is the editor of VoegelinView. He is the author of Finding Arcadia: Wisdom, Truth, and Love in the Classics, The Odyssey of Love: A Christian Guide to the Great Books, The Politics of Plato, and contributed to The College Lecture Today and Making Sense of Diseases and Disasters.
Photo credit: Joe Ravi CC BY-SA 3.0 license