Some Upcoming 5-to-4 U.S. Supreme Court Decisions

First published in slightly different form in the Toronto Globe and Mail, July 1, 2018.

By David L. Updike

In a 5-to-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that President Trump’s executive order banning anyone other than Roseanne Barr from using the last name “Conner” on television did not violate the constitution, since he was acting in the national interest. “Roseanne was clearly the heart and soul of the popular ABC sitcom,” wrote Chief Justice Roberts for the majority. In a separate, concurring opinion, Justice Alito noted that John Goodman, while a “very fine actor,” had done his best work with the Coen brothers and was not suited to anchoring a prime-time sitcom in today’s media market. In a blistering dissent, Justice Ginsburg argued that Sarah Gilbert was the only conceivable reason to watch anything related to the franchise.

In a 5-to-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court today upheld a new border enforcement policy requiring Canadians not to “act all smug and superior” upon entering the United States “or at any time during their (hopefully brief) visit.” In a sweeping endorsement of the policy’s stated goal of preserving America’s “self-image as the greatest country in the history of the universe,” the majority agreed that Canadians must refrain from uttering sentences beginning with “Well, in Canada...” or “Justin Trudeau, on the other hand...” They are also forbidden from “using excessive politeness to mask disdain” and “showing off their bilingual abilities by speaking French or French-accented English.” A separate provision banning any Canadian named Justin from entering the country was struck down. During oral arguments, the usually taciturn Justice Thomas had pushed back against the measure, noting that Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” was “the kiss-off track of the decade.” In lieu of writing a dissent, the court’s four liberal justices stood outside the courthouse in Toronto Maple Leafs jerseys and sang “O Canada,” followed by a medley of songs by Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and Gordon Lightfoot.

In a 5-to-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court today upheld a new EPA regulation requiring all electric and gas-electric hybrid cars to be retrofitted with coal stoves. The stoves, which will burn both anthracite and bituminous coal, are part of a new policy that aims to offset the “carbon deficit” caused by more fuel-efficient automobiles, as well as to revive the foundering U.S. coal industry. Toyota Prius owners, for example, will be required to purchase and incinerate enough coal to bring their emissions up to those of a Cadillac Escalade carrying six passengers and “stuffed to the gills with recreational gear.” In a dissent signed by all four liberal jurists, Justice Sotomayor wrote, “Help.”

In a 5-to-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court today opted to suspend the Electoral College, which was deemed “elitist and out of touch with the everyday lives of most hard-working Americans.” Instead, heading into the 2020 cycle, we will now have an Electoral High School. The primary system will be replaced with a series of televised popularity contests, to be hosted by upscale hotels and convention centers around the country. Two candidates—one male and one female—will be selected from each state, based on a number of criteria, including poise, fashion sensibility (women only), entitlement, and “great genes.” The winners will head to a national competition to be held at Mar-a-Lago in late August. The pair that emerges victorious from that contest will be married in a ceremony on the National Mall on January 20, 2021, and will take their place at the White House as the new Second Couple, replacing Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, with whom President Trump has grown increasingly annoyed.

All four liberal justices were last seen in a late-model Prius headed toward the Canadian border.