Stare Deridus

sta·re de·ri·dus

/starē dəˈrīdəs/

Stare deridus is the doctrine that courts and the judges who preside over them lose all claims to legitimacy and become deserving targets of ridicule, satire and Kick Me signs on the backs of their judicial robes when they

1) are the beneficiaries of a corrupted Senate confirmation process ruthlessly and hypocritically manipulated to gain partisan political advantage

2) circumlocute impenetrably during confirmation hearings, and lie in private meetings with Senators to convince them that they have not been hand-picked to do the bidding of corporate, governmental, ecclesiastical or ideological special interests

3) drastically overrate their capabilities as historians, philosophers, or logicians

4) all of the above.

(The legal term stare decisis has, of course, a tangential etymological connection, but continuing relevance only when used ironically or as part of the punch line in an off-color lawyer joke, like the one just told by Neil (Potty Mouth) Gorsuch below.)

There are those who have expressed concern about the precipitous decline in public respect for the court, current justices who are in a position to provide real time battle damage assessments, and questions about the long-term effect of the contaminated process.

“Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?” she asked. “I don’t see how it is possible.”

–Sonia Sotomayor

Etymology, Anyone?

Stench Old English stenc “a smell, odor, scent, fragrance” (either pleasant or unpleasant), from Proto-Germanic *stankwiz (source also of Old Saxon stanc, Old High German stanch, German stank). Related to stincan “emit a smell” (see stink (v.)) as drench is to drink. It tended toward “bad smell” in Old English (as a verb, only with this sense), and the notion of “evil smell” has predominated since c. 1200.

As always, thanks to my friends at

Here’s a translation of one of the considerate comments I got on this Stare Deridus blog:

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(Brought a tear to my eye, it did.)

11 thoughts on “Stare Deridus”

  1. As shocked and disgusted as I am by who can end up sitting on the Supreme Court or in the Oval Office – there seems to be an equal number of voters who feel that very same way with the likes of Obama and RBG. What we have on our hands is a completely split America. Half of us are wired one way and the other half has frayed wiring. Whatcha gonna do?

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