My favorite talking point in the SCOTUS wars is the one invoking the grand conspiracy theory that an almost 82-year-old Supreme Court justice, long rumored to be eying retirement, decided to step down because his son has some financial relationship with Donald Trump. Never mind that the story would logically imply that Trump would be indebted to Kennedy, not the other way around. Also, put aside the fact that Justin Kennedy wasn’t nearly as involved in Trump’s dealings as many have suggested.
Now, I do think there’s some journalistic malfeasance involved that this wasn’t reported earlier. I don’t think it’s a huge scandal, but it is interesting, and you’d think we would have heard about this sooner.
But let’s imagine we heard about it last year. In normal times, you could imagine people arguing that Kennedy should recuse himself from some cases having to do with Trump. I’m not saying that he should have, just that this is the normal kind of response to the appearance of conflicts of interest.
But because of the times we live in, we get a different response (admittedly mostly from the ranks of the Twitter-passionate). He’s a Trump stooge! He’s compromised! And, he should stay on the bench!
Good times, good times.