Five lawyers

I happened across an article about the aftermath of the marriage equality ruling at WND (formerly known as WorldNet Daily), a right-wing news site. I was struck by the number of people quoted in the article who used the phrase “five lawyers” to refer to the five Supreme Court Justices who made the majority ruling.

The phrase, of course, comes most recently from Chief Justice Roberts's dissent: “Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law” and “five lawyers who happen to hold commissions authorizing them to resolve legal disputes.” I'm not sure whether it's been used before to denigrate 5–4 SCOTUS rulings.

But I think that it's interesting that we've so quickly shifted from the old reliable phrase “judicial activism” to Santorum's and Walker's “five unelected judges” to Scalia's “committee of nine unelected lawyers” to Roberts's “five lawyers.” No longer is the Supreme Court the highest court in the land, home to the Justices who are appointed by the President with the approval of Congress; no, it's now some place where five lawyers (who just happen to randomly hold commissions, for no clear reason) sit around making stuff up.

The #5lawyers hashtag on Twitter has been dormant since 2012, when it seems to have been used for something unrelated. I think it's time for a revival. Or maybe #5lawyersagree, along the lines of the old Kids in the Hall recurring “30 Helens Agree” bit? Or possibly The Five Lawyers should be a band name.

Anyway, I imagine that those of you who are lawyers will be heartened to learn that all you need to start making laws for the whole US are four other like-minded lawyers who happen to hold some kind of commission.

(Wrote this in early July but somehow neglected to post it.)

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