Ignoring a vile and deceptive political book won’t stop its rise on the bestseller charts, Dahlia Lithwick rightly observes — particularly not when the book is being pimped by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Fox News.
Men in Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America has been brought to us by the same abhorrent organization that published Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry. The new book was ranked eighth on the New York Times list last week, its sixth week on the list:
and seems to be leaping off the bookshelves, despite the fact that it concerns constitutional law and the U.S. Supreme Court. Yet it has been reviewed virtually no place and written up by almost no one.
Acknowledging that reading the book may give rise to an overpowering urge to shower between chapters, Lithwick jumps in and trounces it:
Men in Black never gets past the a.m.-radio bile to arrive at cogent analysis. Each of the first three chapters ends with the word “tyranny.” Absent any structure or argument, this book could just have been titled Legal Decisions I Really, Really Hate. Levin follows the lead of lazy pundits everywhere who excoriate “activist judges” without precisely defining what constitutes one….
The book is silly. But the maddening question here is why Levin, Limbaugh, and–as of yesterday, Tom DeLay–have stopped threatening just “liberal activist” judges and have started threatening the judiciary as a whole. Levin, recall, is excoriating a court composed of seven Republican appointees. He’s trashing the body that’s done more to restore the primacy of states’ rights, re-inject religion into public life, and limit the rights of criminal defendants than any court in decades.
He seems not to have noticed that the Rehnquist court is a pretty reliably conservative entity. Reading his hysterical attacks on Justices O’Connor and Kennedy, you’d forget they are largely on his side and substantially different creatures from the court’s true liberals. But Levin seems as incapable of distinguishing between jurists as he is incapable of differentiating between cases or doctrine. He’s happy to decimate the court as a whole….
[Levin’s] fixes for the problem of judicial overreaching go further than manipulating the appointments process. He wants to cut all judges off at the knees: He’d like to give force to the impeachment rules, put legislative limits on the kinds of constitutional questions courts may review, and institute judicial term limits. He’d also amend the Constitution to give congress a veto over the court’s decisions. Each of which imperils the notion of an independent judiciary and of three separate, co-equal branches of government. But the Levins of the world are not interested in a co-equal judiciary. They seem to want to see it burn.