Has the Supreme Court No Shame? A Question for John Roberts

What does “being without shame” mean?  It means to be without conscience, without a moral compass, to be incapable of recognizing that one can be wrong, make mistakes, participate in evil, and not care. It means to pretend to be perfect, to be a king or emperor without any clothes but to join public parades anyway.  It means to be above the law and be perfectly fine with that (because, of course, one feels one is above everyone and everything else).

The Emperor is wearing no clothes, from a powerful fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen.
Illustration by Hans Tegnor. Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

It is a serious thing when a person entrusted with public authority and responsibility to bring about the common good has no shame.  Laws exist to remind people that there are some boundaries we must agree upon if we are to survive as a people, as a society.  Of course boundaries shift and evolution happens and “all things are impermanent”—but what is not impermanent is the basic principle that we all have a conscience, a capacity to discern right from wrong and that there are actions that are right and actions that are wrong, even if the law does not always spell them out. 

And it should NOT take months and months and years and years of legal maneuvering and game-playing to get to the heart of the matter: That judges who take oaths of office to serve the constitution and the body politic ought to bring a conscience to the table. A sense of right and wrong. A sense of shame, therefore. And if they don’t, the law and courts and public opinion should speak out and act out without incessant delay.

“Latest Clarence Thomas scandal may be too big to blow over.” MSNBC

Mr. John Roberts, chief of the once-supreme court of the United States, do you have any shame, any conscience, any regard for the oath of office that you and your fellow justices took (granted three of them came via the path of a presidential champion of no shame)? If you do, and if you cared a damn about the court, you would insist that grifter Clarence Thomas retire immediately. And only then will he get his retirement benefits. And if he does not, it is time to prosecute him for the shame he has brought on the supreme court for not reporting bribes from his billionaire Republican activist sugar daddy in Texas.

Shame or shamelessness at the Supreme Court?  The time has come to tell America.  With actions as well as words.

See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society.  And Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas, pp. 116-119.

To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner image: “Don’t accept injustice.” By Quinn Dombrowski on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

What does “having no shame” mean to you?  How important are the consequences of having no shame in the body politic including the judicial system itself?

Recommended Reading

Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society

Visionary theologian and best-selling author Matthew Fox offers a new theology of evil that fundamentally changes the traditional perception of good and evil and points the way to a more enlightened treatment of ourselves, one another, and all of nature. In comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them. 
“A scholarly masterpiece embodying a better vision and depth of perception far beyond the grasp of any one single science.  A breath-taking analysis.” — Diarmuid O’Murchu, author of Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics

The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times

A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book!  Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

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18 thoughts on “Has the Supreme Court No Shame? A Question for John Roberts”

  1. Avatar

    I’m wondering if this is something that ALL the Supreme Court justices have been getting away with over the years, and that Roberts is the fall guy?

  2. Avatar

    There is a great moral culpability that did not start with Clarence Thomas and will not end with Clarence Thomas. Don’t we all want the dream? Do you remember the television show Dynasty? Do we all not desire the wealth of the Carrington’s with the clothes, the cars, the homes, the luxuries (maybe not the big hair and shoulders)? It appears we as a society, with celebrity and billionaire adoration, have followed this path of desires. When one can achieve some of this dream without having to pay for it, all the better then or not? This is by no means to give anyone a ‘hall pass’ for doing what is wrong, but only an illustration of the path that leads us into temptation.

    How do we reshape our dreams and desires for a a better, just and caring society? What should ‘having it all’ really mean to us? — BB.

    1. Avatar
      Carol Vaccariello

      HI Bill,
      Problem seems to be the “dream”?
      I stand back and take exception to the ALL word. That’s me.
      I agree that the “faulty dream” lures folks.
      AND I heartily agree: It should serve to “…reshape our dreams and desires for a a better, just and caring society? What should ‘having it all’ really mean to us?” A thoughtful question for us to ponder.

  3. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    Recently I was having a conversation with some of my co-workers about an injustice that had taken place in our workplace. I commented that if one simply listens to one’s conscience, one is guided as to how to respond to such injustices. One co-worker stated, “what if you don’t have a conscience?.” My response was, ” we all have a conscience, however some just choose not to listen to it.”

    Contemplating over this conversation, I came to realize how humanity silences the voice of one’s own conscience. Addictions is one way humans do this… either through substance abuses of achohol and drugs; or through the addiction of positions of power, wealth, or status; or through the complexities of over intellectualization and justifications. Through the repeated use of these addictions, one nullifies not only one’s conscience, blinding oneself to the reality of truth.

    These one’s fear the light of truth and transperency which exposes their addictions… along with being held accountable and responsible for the consequences of their addictive choices. These one’s fear vulnerability, the open heartedness of admitting their addictions and the misteps and mistakes these lead to; because they don’t want to feel the emotions of shame, guilt or remorse that accompany such lamentations. These one’s don’t recognize that the very things that they fear, are the things that they actually need to set themselves free.

    1. Avatar

      Problem is, we ALL have shadows, whether we are conscious of them or not. Many of us don’t even know when our shadows (our traumas and addictions) are overtaking us on certain things. This is where compassion is needed. “Better than” and its shadow of “not good enough” make us all very vulnerable…and broken. We have a conscience…but it too can be duped…or not as aware of itself as it could be…welcome to walking in the ways of wisdom….it is an ongoing process….If we want to end holy wars and class wars, I really think trauma work could really open some hearts and doors….Just some thoughts…

    2. Avatar
      Carol Vaccariello

      HI Jeanette,
      Conscience – Yes, we all have one. You mentioned many difficulties that come with how one chooses to develop one’s conscience. Societal pressures and fears, real or imagined, certainly impact one’s conscious or “not-so-conscious” choices. Thank you for walking us through your reflection. Helpful.

    1. Avatar
      Carol Vaccariello

      Hi Barbara,
      Thanks for sharing wisdom.
      (When I first read your post, I wondered who ‘Nuff was? Had to smile to myself!)

  4. Avatar

    Perhaps we have forgotten the revelations from Anita Hill during the deliberations over Judge Thomas’ fitness to be on the Supreme Court all those years ago. These did not stop him. Shamelessness is a result of corruption, the sense of entitlement that comes from absolute power, I think. There is little recourse when it comes to the Supreme Court, as the only thing mentioned in the Constitution is “The Judges ….. shall hold their offices during good Behaviour…”, and this is not defined. There is no mechanism for appeal or for getting rid of bad judges. I have personal experience of a local judge being suspended for months and fined for interfering with the criminal case of her son, but she was not removed from the bench. One consequence is that lawyers are really intimidated by her.

    I don’t think everyone has a conscience, although most do, and the latter (myself included) can usually find a reason not to follow it if it causes any discomfort or inconvenience. As Lee says, conscience can be duped. We still have to work on recognizing our shadow and speaking the truth to power in every way that we can. Matthew is a leader in this.

  5. Avatar

    Fr. Matthew,
    Is there any way that you can post what you have written today as an open letter to John Roberts and post it in the New York Times, in the Washington Post and other news outlets? Your facts are right on and I would love to see a majority of people read about what you wrote and not only those of us who subscribe to your daily meditations.
    How can so many people be so uninterested in what the Supreme Court gets away with? It is mind boggling.

  6. Avatar

    Waylon Jennings sang a song with a verse: “I got my name painted on my shirt, I ain’t no ordinary dude . . . ”
    In order to have no shame, you need to believe, fully and without reservation, that you’re no ordinary dude—you don’t have to do the same things those other people have to do. You’re better than they are. You’re above them. They’re beneath consideration.
    Which is a perfect description of every evangelical/republican politician and enabler I can think of today.
    Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, “We’re doing God’s work . . . ” justifying corporate practices harming U.S. workers by moving abroad to find cheap labor.
    BP CEO Tony Hayward, replying to questions about BP responsibility in the devastating Gulf oil spill and explosion that killed the rig workers, implied he was the wounded one—he just wanted all the hubbub to subside so he could “get back to [his] life.”

    1. Avatar
      Carol Vaccariello

      Hi Olive,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Noticed words like “duped and dude” in comments today.
      Doing a “duped and dude” screening on myself tonight – Just in case

  7. Avatar

    Thank you for the very inspirational meditation. Shame is the root of much of our behavior. Shame Affect and the Compass of Shame by Dr. Don Nathanson are very informative. Both are on YouTube in a condensed version.

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