Sunday, February 21, 2016

Goodbye Courts, Hello Coins

Last occasion, I suggested how we should perhaps let a coin decide the fates of humans. It wasn't a joke.

Consider the status quo - that's where the real joke lies.

This week, America is coming to grips with a horrifying reality: the Supreme Court is down to 8 judges, hence incapable of delivering decisions in the event of a 4-4 deadlock, for maybe as long as a year.
The Hapless Eight

Image source: BBC

How Could This Happen?

Sure, the trigger was the untimely passing of Justice Scalia. But the fault runs deep than that, lying with the justice and political system.

In America, judges are elected for a lifetime by the President, subject to the approval of Senate. Democrat presidents naturally gravitate towards liberal judges, Republican presidents conversely towards conservative judges. Justice Scalia was a conservative. Without him, the bench is now equally split with 4 liberal and conservative judges each. So a 4-4 tie is actually quite likely to happen.

Simple maths would tell you that the appointment of Scalia's successor would be a hard-fought battle. Any proposal by President Obama will be blocked by the Republican-controlled Senate. He only has months left in office, which is why some presidential candidates say that the next President should be the one electing (and reasonably so, considering the far-reaching implications - for instance, Justice Scalia was appointed way back in 1986).

So What Happens In The Meantime?

The Supreme Court will continue hearing important cases, even with only 8 judges. And if a case really ends in a stalemate, it means that the Supreme Court cannot decide the matter and the lower court decision is left intact.

That leaves some of the parties to the cases pending before the Supreme Court at an unfair disadvantage. That leaves serious issues of public importance including health care, abortion and labour unions unresolved. 

(For a more detailed coverage, check out BBC's analysis)

Shitty situation, right? 

So Who To Blame?

It's easy to write this off as anomaly - that mighty as America is, its justice system is plagued by politics. Also equally persuasive is the idea that if you take away the politics, the system will be fixed. 

But how? Who elects the judges then? The public? That's the same old political circus again. Let the judges elect themselves? There will always be internal politics in any organisation - people promoted by loyalty and allegiance, not merit or performance (just like how every workplace has 'office politics').

Judges will always be biased - towards their beliefs and moral code. Some may mock Americans for being so blatant about whether they're a liberal or conservative. But perhaps we should applaud them for being honest instead. At least we know that American judges have principles, and steadfastly stand by them.

Better to have a judge who will rule the same way on the same issues, than a judge who rules differently every time. We'd rather trust a judge who believes in something (even if it's the wrong thing, in our eyes) than one who believes in nothing. We'll be alarmed if, say, we see the same judge who ruled in favour of abortion last week now rule against it on a new case this week.

Yes, this man may be electing judges

Any Solution In Sight?

Let's be honest. No system can be free of political and personal biasness, so long as humans are involved.

So where does the cold hard truth leave us? With a simple logic, actually.

Judges are humans. Humans are biased. Justice shouldn't be biased. Therefore, humans shouldn't be judges.

Which begs the question: who should be a judge then?

Coins Over Courts

Introducing the coin: unbiased, unprejudiced, fair.

Let justice be decided by a coin flip. Start with the Supreme Court. If a case is tied at 4-4, then flip a coin. And why stop there? To elect the ninth Supreme Court judge, nominate a conservative and liberal each, then flip a coin.

Or better still, just remove all the judges and replace them with coins instead. Let's abolish the courts too, since we're at it. So that no one gets confused, use proper names: Supreme Coins, Constitutional Coins, High Coins, Coins of Appeal. The whole judicial process will be faster, cheaper and yes, fairer.

Courts are a joke. Time to flip some coins.

Even 'ol Super Mario knows the vales of coins

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