When regimes start to go rogue, it is little surprise that the legal system is one of the places that falls under the most pressure. It is tough, even with the prerogatives of lifetime service, for justices to remain independent in the face of political pressure. In 1937, the Supreme Court caved and allowed a great deal of unconstitutional legislation creating the modern horror of the regulatory state to pass rather than to confront it and face an executive willing to pack the courts to force his laws down the throats of the rest of the country. Similar efforts on the part of the contemporary Supreme Court to deal with longstanding social evils have met with threats of assassination and court packing as well if they do not go along with the desires of the current administration.
Politics is the art of the possible, and in normal circumstances what is possible is what one can persuade others to go along with. If one cannot persuade a majority of people in a legislature one then tries to persuade the voters to go along with you. Sometimes they do and sometimes they do not. The importance placed on politics by some people means that the failure of persuasion is met by ever-increasing efforts at coercion when people believe that their wicked and foolish schemes are being prevented by an illegitimate minority and that any steps that can be taken to get one to the desired state are worth taking, including intimidating or killing judges and throwing political opponents in jail for obstructing one’s tyrannical efforts.
One of the things that makes our times dangerous is the insecurity and incompetence of people who nevertheless seek power for themselves. People who are generally competent and secure do not fear what others think of them, so they do not think to abuse and take advantage of their power. It is those who feel threatened by others, threatened with the loss of face that comes from admitting one has done wrong and threatened by the loss of power to rivals who seek the power and offices they have, become the worst sort of tyrants because they know that their power is the only thing that keeps them from suffering loss, and so they are determined to hold onto power at any cost.
It is often ordinary people who end up paying a great cost. They pay the price for the wicked and foolish decisions made by authorities, which destroy savings and livelihoods, seek to enforce rule by corrupt authorities, rob the wealth of the country for their own selfish benefit, and seek to manipulate elections to keep themselves in office indefinitely, so as to avoid suffering any harm from their errors personally. Is such behavior to be suffered quietly, or does one look at the example of Paul speaking about sobriety and the judgment to come to a governor who held him in prison, or the prophets speaking about the inevitability of personal and societal judgment to come as a result of such wicked authorities. Sometimes we must pray that the lord bless and keep authorities far from us, and hope such prayers are answered speedily.