Artificial Intelligence and the Supreme Court

Stop fretting about whatever happened to Merrick Garland or whether Neil Gorsuch or anyone else should fill a Supreme Court vacancy.  A new app, the Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Roberts and Sometimes Kennedy Know-It-All System, or STAR-ASK,™ uses artificial intelligence to distill our nation’s recent jurisprudence into to a handful of algorithms that can be uploaded on any computer or iphone.  Rather than having to wait months for briefing, argument and deliberations, STAR-ASK can resolve the knottiest legal questions in seconds — almost as fast as Donald Trump can tweet the answer.  As a virtual, rather than flesh-and-blood, Justice, with artificial rather than emotional intelligence, STAR-ASK  avoids the vagaries of individual life events and will preserve the legacy of conservative Justices going all the way back to Roger Taney better than any living Justice could.

Let’s get started with simple and straightforward Algorithm 1:  Tap the icon titled “Citizens United.”  Up comes the answer:  “Money Talks.”  And so it is, no matter what Elena Kagan or Sonia Sotomayer may say.  People with lots of money may influence elections and elected officials all they want.  People without money must make up for it by travelling many miles in cars they don’t own to purchase identification cards they can’t afford simply in order to vote.

            Now, to prove the elegance of STAR-ASK, ask yourself who can best pay for speech?  That’s right: Not Ruth Bader Ginsburg or even Steven Breyer but giant, for profit corporations formed for commercial purposes.  And that brings us to STAR-ASK Algorithm 2 (accessed through the icon Hobby Lobby).  Corporations are artificial entities created for convenience.  They have no actual mouths, larynxes or brains.  But the rules of STAR-ASK give them rights to speak and exercise religious beliefs that supercede the rights of actual people who do have physical organs.  Indeed, physical organs of real people can be harmed when these artificial beings exercise these artificial rights.

            These first two algorithms are often employed in conjunction with the powerful STAR-ASK Algorithm of “originalism” for constitutional analysis.  Just click on the “originalism” button to answer every question.  Then let the system use as much originality as it chooses in opining about how a white male slave owner would have dealt with a situation he never dreamed would have existed over two centuries ago.

            For example, the Constitution in Articles I and II refers to the “Militia” as a body to be organized and disciplined for purposes of national defense by both the legislative and executive branches.  The Second Amendment then associates the right to bear arms with the need to have such a Militia — and a “Well-Regulated Militia” at that.  But, as defined by STAR-ASK, originalism lets us forget all that and decades of history, practice and prior precedent.  Now the Well-Regulated Militia’s right to bear arms can become anyone’s and everyone’s right to keep arsenals of deadly weapons around the house and take them to grocery stores, movie theaters and sushi bars with perhaps scarcely any regulation at all.  This is artificial intelligence with a vengeance.

            Algorithm 4 is a version of “originalism” that can be applied to civil rights questions such as the fundamental right to vote.  Clicking on the icon which looks like the emancipation proclamation with an X drawn through it  allows the Court to ignore everything that has happened since the adoption of the constitution in its original form.  STAR-ASK then allows the Court to conclude that the Thirteenth and Fourteenth amendments to the constitution, the statutes enacted pursuant to those amendments, and the bloody civil war that our country fought to outlaw badges of slavery do not count anymore.  STAR-ASK has already established that money talks; originalism confirms that those most disadvantaged by our nation’s history should face the most restrictions on voting and other constitutionally protected rights. “Q.E.D.”, concludes STAR-ASK — once you have turned on the program for spicing up opinions with Latin and out of context quotes from the Federalist papers.

            Wondering about humdrum, everyday questions of contracts and civil procedure?  Just plug Siri into STAR-ASK and ask her about Algorithm 5.  She will tell you to send all commercial disputes between corporations and consumers to an arbitrator to decide, as well as to turn right at every intersection.  STAR-ASK assumes that an ordinary person has the same artificial intelligence that it has and could have read, understood and voluntarily agreed to the lengthy, impenetrably dense and legalistic language of a boiler-plate arbitration clause in a notice glimpsed for a nanosecond many years before on a computer screen.  This assumption saves corporations busy expressing their religious beliefs the bother of commercial disputes and messy awards of class action damages.

            Finally, STAR-ASK Algorithm 6:  The fundamental notion of habeas corpus.   This Latin phrase is translated by STAR-ASK to mean you already have the person’s body, so you might as well keep it – and by the way there is probably not much you will do to it that we will find to be cruel and unusual.

Keep conservatism ascendant and take politics out of the courts.  Demand that your Congressman vote to install STAR-ASK now.  Or tweet our president and ask him to have the workers at Mar-a-Lago install it before he deports them.  We already have drones.  Soon we will have self-driving cars.  The time appears all too ripe for acceptance of automated, inhuman justice as well.

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