Keep Spouses Out of It

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Here’s the latest jockeying for position on the constitutionality of the healthcare reform law:

Seventy-four House Democrats have signed a letter to Clarence Thomas asking the Supreme Court justice to recuse himself from any deliberations on the constitutionality of the national health care overhaul, arguing that his wife’s work as a lobbyist creates “the appearance of a conflict of interest.”

….The House Democrats’ letter follows a suggestion made by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) last week that Supreme Court Justice Elana Kagan should recuse herself from any consideration of the health care law’s constitutionality because of her previous position as U.S. Solicitor General.

I get that this is mostly just rhetorical jousting, and I get that Democrats are mostly just responding to Hatch. Still, I think it’s a bad idea to be making this argument. We really shouldn’t be promoting either the idea that judges’ spouses need to be apolitical creatures or that judges are responsible for what their spouses do. For starters, even in our current enlightened era it’s a lot more likely for a male spouse to be politically active than a female spouse, which means this kind of argument hurts women a lot more than men. And if it’s true of judges, why not members of Congress too? And legislators? And mayors?

If there’s actual money involved, that’s one thing. But it’s pernicious to suggest that politicians or judges are acting badly if they’re involved in legislation that’s merely supported by their spouse. We should be beyond that by now.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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