The Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse

During the Roosevelt Administration, they were known as the Four Horsemen (of the Apocalypse). They were Justices Butler, McReynolds, Sutherland, and Van Devanter. They voted, again and again, against the New Deal.

This is what they looked like.

Tonight, with Trump’s choice of Brett Kavanaugh, we have the Five Horsemen. They are Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and, once he’s confirmed, Kavanaugh. They will vote, again and again, against whatever progressive legislation Congress and the states manage to pass in the future.

This is what they look like.









  1. William E Burns July 9, 2018 at 9:53 pm | #

    At least the four horseman were visibly aged.

  2. George Honig July 9, 2018 at 10:06 pm | #

    Time to start introducing the idea of expanding the number of judges on the Supreme Court when the Democrats are in a more advantageous position. The reason why Roosevelt failed in his court-packing scheme was because he did not make it a centerpiece of his 1936 campaign. We should not make that mistake again. In any case, the members of the Roberts court may moderate their decisions if they believe Democratic court packing is a real possibility.

  3. wisedupearly July 9, 2018 at 10:10 pm | #

    The 5 Horsemen may be in the saddle but the horse is dead. Their efforts to oppose social trends will only strengthen the trends.
    Two steps forward, one step back.

  4. Chris Morlock July 9, 2018 at 11:51 pm | #

    Yes, but according to the tenants of corporate identity politics, it’s progress that one of them is a minority. Unfortunately, he is also the most reactionary one.

    • cmputrwiz July 10, 2018 at 2:26 am | #

      He, Thomas, was chosen for that reason.

  5. nihil obstet July 10, 2018 at 11:30 am | #

    Time to start working on how to restrict the kinds of cases the Supreme Court can rule on. They have increasingly ignored the prior Chevron deference decision (that reasonable regulatory implementation of law is to be deferred to) in favor of deciding themselves what policy should be. For 9 unelected persons with limited expertise in large areas of governance to micromanage policy is both undemocratic and foolish. It is overdue for the legislative and executive to push back, with the powers available to them, up to and including impeachment if necessary.

  6. good2go July 10, 2018 at 12:03 pm | #

    The fact that four of those hacks were appointed by “presidents” who failed to win the popular vote (hell, the election that gave GWB his first term, which almost automatically gave him is second, was never even completed) is equally troubling. Time to rethink how SC justices are appointed.

  7. Roquentin July 10, 2018 at 9:47 pm | #

    I can’t tell if it’s optimistic, pessimistic, wishful thinking, or clear eyed realism but I have the sense that we’re arriving at an era where all of the venerated institutions of the US government are undergoing a process of delegitimization. Neoliberalism has so thoroughly captured all the major institutions in the US, that people no longer really take them seriously. If Trump can be considered novel for any reason, at all, it’s that he symbolizes the amount of contempt and mockery people in the US have for the institution of the presidency. Perhaps its time the Supreme Court and our legal system on the whole is treated with similar disdain, a legal system which has enshrined our obscene inequality into law and turned us into the world’s leading jailer by a wide margin, maintaining a prison system more extensive than most of the authoritarian governments we are told are so monstrous on TV.

    I know why CNN and MSNBC are salivating at this, because they have another justification for wagging their fingers at the left and saying “See, you assholes should have fallen in line behind HRC. This is what you get.” CNN and MSNBC are as bad as Fox News. They play both in the gym when I work out and it’s a steady diet of garbage. People complain all the time about how ignorance is the problem, but Jacques Ellul was on to something when he said that the more information you consume the more thoroughly propagandized you are. It’s an extremely power, complex system creating a shimmering lie we’re forced to live in. None of it is real, our supposed reality is a fiction and the entire discourse is so far off the rails you couldn’t put it right again no matter how hard you try.

    • rivelle July 11, 2018 at 9:23 am | #

      Re-read Habermas’s “Legitimation Crisis” and look at the world around you and you will see that you are quite right.

      The solutions to the problems would seem to along the lines as outlined in Sanford Levinson’s “Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (and How We the People Can Correct It)”

    • Chris Morlock July 14, 2018 at 1:04 am | #

      Yes, I feel like we are in the political “Dadaism” phase. Nothing seems real anymore, not the tenets of right vs left nor the false dichotomy of the MSM. The most peculiar spectacle for me is the actual SCOTUS confirmation hearings. It’s days of grandstanding and rhetorical questions with answers that are equally predictable. It’s as if it’s a constant back and forth of:

      “Are you in face completely partisan?”

      “No, I am completely objective.”

      Then their decisions can be predicted by a computer 99% of the time in either partisan direction they were appointed by. Is “Law” supposed to be taken seriously?

  8. Howard Berman July 12, 2018 at 8:33 pm | #

    The Republicans will do anything for power- there’s a long list in the historical record. The Supreme Court is part of their master plan as was strong arming Kennedy to retire

  9. Jim July 15, 2018 at 1:22 pm | #

    Presumably, Roberts is aware that, if the SCOTUS simply becomes an arm of the conservative GOP and makes the most expansive and activist rightwing decisions (e.g. Shelby, Citizens United, destruction of unions and collective bargaining, etc. then the SCOTUS will quickly lose any legitimacy it might have had and future non-conservative presidents (and Congresses) will simply ignore their decisions. Does Roberts really want that to happen?

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