Last night, National Campaign to Restore Civil Rights' staffers were on the set of The Colbert Report when Stephen Colbert officially announced that he would run for President of the United States of America. While the Campaign cannot officially endorse any person in the already crowded race, we can offer observations about how the next president, and Colbert in particular, may impact the courts, and our democracy.
Our research has thus far yielded very little on Colbert's view of the courts and civil rights. But he has expressed clear disdain for the U.S. Supreme Court. Colbert claimed on the Daily Show that he "has taken the decision to abolish the Supreme Court and since [he] is God there is nothing you can do to stop me!" Why he would abolish the Court is one of the questions we'd like to ask him.
Colbert was also quick to attack the Court for its decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, striking down the military tribunals for Guantanamo Bay detainees as violative of U.S. and international law. Colbert stated that it was "gutless" for SCOTUS to hand down this decision and then ditch town.
Some also question Colbert's close relationship with Justice Scalia. At last year's White House press briefing, Colbert stated:
Justice Scalia is here. Welcome, sir. May I be the first to say, you look fantastic. How are you? [After each sentence, Colbert made a hand gesture, an allusion to Scalia's recent use of an obscene Sicilian hand gesture in speaking to a reporter about Scalia's critics. Scalia is seen laughing hysterically.] Just talking some Sicilian with my paisan.
The question on our minds is what kind of judges would Colbert appoint? Would he appoint judges in the mold of Scalia and Alito? And what about his attorney general? Would Colbert appoint Bill O'Reilly for that position to improve morale? These are important questions Colbert and his close advisors -- rumored to include Karl Rove, Pat Robinson and Beelzebub -- need to address.
There are also concerns about Colbert's openness, and whether his administration would be more transparent than others. Colbert raised red flags when he was banned from Wikipedia. Those concerns only grew following his recent New York Times column in which he wrote, "Dick Cheney's fondest pipe dream is driving a bulldozer into The New York Times while drinking crude oil out of Keith Olbermann's skull." Colbert seems to share that dream, as do many others on the extreme-right.
We hope that Colbert will explain his vision for the Court and our civil rights soon. But if his past comments and associations are indicative, we can expect him to attempt to dissolve the Court. And the Congress. And the media (starting with the Times).
If so, Colbert would essentially be offering more of the same right-wing ideology, which could hurt his chances in the early primary states of Nevada and South Carolina. Perhaps recognizing his vulnerability among voters of color and elderly voters, Colbert announced that he will run as both a Republican, and a Democrat. Whether this sudden about-face is successful is a question the voters will soon answer.