It wasn't too long ago that liberals, who claimed to stand for the little guy, charged conservatives with being elitists.
This was the charge leveled against Allan Bloom when his book The Closing of the American Mind became a huge bestseller in the late 1980s. Bloom's book lamented the abandonment of our cultural heritage by our colleges and universities and questioned the moral relativism that had resulted. Bloom was labeled an elitist by his liberal detractors.
As it turns out, the hard hats and lunch pails and populist rhetoric were just a pose.
In his dissent in last week's Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision prohibiting states from defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, Justice Antonin Scalia pointed out that every member of the Supreme Court was a graduate of Yale or Harvard law schools. This is, he said, "hardly a cross-section of America."
"Four of the nine are natives of New York City," he said. "Eight of them grew up in east- and West-coast states. Only one hails from the vast expanse in between. Not a single Southwesterner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count). Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that comprises about one quarter of Americans), or even a Protestant of any denomination."
None of this, he said, would matter, if Supreme Court judges were acting like judges. But they're not. This elite caste of nine unelected justices now acts as a super-legislature, having fully disconnected itself from the plain language of the Constitution, and freely overruling the will of voters — all with the support and encouragement of the very liberals who still somehow maintain they stand for the average American.
Supreme Court justices have gone rogue from the Constitution. In almost complete disregard of actual constitutional language and their own legal precedent, they have become, to use Scalia's term, a "Black-Robed Supremacy," a law unto themselves, ruling according to their own inscrutable will.
One scene will be burned in my memory forever. I was watching the television coverage. A reporter from one of the networks was standing on the Supreme Court steps talking to the camera. He paused, leaned over to hear the announcement coming through his ear piece. A look of excitement came on his face as he stood erect again. "There is a right ...," he leaned back over to make sure, "... a right to same-sex marriage!"
This is not a scene that can happen in a democratic republic. Liberals no longer fight for their causes on the fields of democracy. Instead, they flock to Washington, beseeching the judicial augurs for a favorable oracle.
The rest of us just wait on the courthouse steps to see what color smoke comes out of the chimney of the Supreme Court building.
The decision's supporters claim, of course, that they have popular support for their belief that all of history in every culture is wrong about marriage. But if they really believed what they said, they would have done what the rest of us are still required to do: go to their elected lawmakers and get a law passed.
Same-sex marriage supporters have compared their cause to racial justice. But the Obergefell decision belies this claim. Not all civil rights gains for blacks were imposed by courts: Some came about through legislation. A public debate was had, and no one could say they were cheated by the process.
But the resolution of the same-sex marriage decision is different. The short-circuiting of the democratic process has left a very bad taste in a lot of people's mouths. Those on the losing side of the issue don't just feel defeated, they feel violated.
The supporters of same-sex marriage cheered the decision and danced in the streets after the pronouncement. But ultimately even winners want to win fair and square, and when the party is over, they will realize they have robbed themselves of that satisfaction.