Opinion | Scott M. Estill: Lies, lies and more lies
Does anyone ever tell the truth? In addition to the ninth commandment, the Bible is clear: Don’t lie. Seems like a noble pursuit, except that it is continually ignored by those who profess faith to its teachings. Former Vice President Mike Pence recently brought the lies of President Joe Biden to the forefront, stating that “never in my lifetime” has he seen a president lie more than President Biden. Except his statement was a lie. While Biden should not be proud of his “177 lies and counting” (according to the Federalist Society as of July 5, 2022), he can take solace in the fact that his predecessor was famous (or perhaps infamous) for his outright contempt for the truth.
How can someone who registered an astonishing hit rate of lies — 30,573 in a mere four years (about 21 every day) — continue to be front and center of one of only two major political parties in the United States? Will he follow the path of the recently resigned British Prime Minister and stay away from any employment which requires a basic understanding of the concept of truth? Or will his supporters in Congress line up behind him to continue to promote his lies? Unfortunately, this includes many of our neighboring counties that are blessed to have Lauren Boebert as their representative in the House of Representatives.
Boebert, along with Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn and 137 other Republicans, voted against certifying the results of a fair and democratic 2020 election. But I can somehow dismiss her as simply following the con of a very experienced grifter, often leading to absurd texts and quotes. Her promotion of QAnon and a Second Amendment on steroids seems merely to reflect her difficult childhood, a lack of opportunity for a formal education and an unfortunate lack of a filter for common sense.
But lying is not limited to those with a background somewhat less than “elite.” Just ask the justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. Eight of the current nine justices have an Ivy league degree. The one who doesn’t has the misfortune of a law degree from Notre Dame. Sounds like a pretty elite group to me. They lie. A lot.
How can a judge write an article in which she concluded that abortion was “always immoral” and where abortion is a direct violation of her Catholic faith and also state, in writing: “If I am confirmed, my views on this or any other question will have no bearing on the discharge of my duties as a judge.” How can she and the other Trump appointees (Gorsuch and Kavanaugh) say these words under oath, knowing full well that the first opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade they will do so? Why is there such a need to lie? What would have happened had they told the truth?
Approximately 22% of the United States population identifies with the Catholic faith, yet six of the nine justices (67%) are Catholic (two protestants and one jew make up the balance of the court). The Catholic church has been unequivocal throughout history as being opposed to abortion in all circumstances (beginning with conception). How does a judge in such a predicament decide between the rule of law and the truly clear mandates of his or her personal faith? In this case, personal faith won over the respect for precedent and a previously held constitutional right.
Justice Barrett herself suggested that Catholic judges have a duty to recuse themselves in some death penalty cases given that their religion prohibits the death penalty. Shouldn’t she apply the same logic to abortion cases? A recusal permits her, and other judges similarly situated, a path to not be put in the delicate position of deciding between personal faith and public law. But then again, she as a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, has no ethics. Not just her but all nine justices — there are no ethical rules or code of conduct for Supreme Court judges!
Perhaps lying to the public has had some effect, as only 25% of the public has confidence in the court (a historical low). For comparison, Congress registers an approval somewhere between 11-20%, while Biden (and Trump at this point in his presidency) have hovered around 40%.
How did we as a country go from punishing those who lie to now promoting them? Perhaps the 75% or so of the country that does not have faith in our current court could be persuaded to reexamine its views if honesty again became a criterion for acceptance onto the court. Hopefully, the court will survive so that it can embark on the lengthy process to repair its very damaged image. It can start by telling the truth.
Scott M. Estill’s column “Challenges, Choices, Changes” publishes biweekly on Thursdays in the Summit Daily News. Estill is an attorney, author, and public speaker who lives in Dillon when not traveling or attending to legal matters in Denver. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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