What is the point of the Supreme Court? Is it to push political ideology down people’s throats? Or to interpret and uphold the Constitution?

Recently the Court struck down DC’s ban on handguns. All of the press coverage on this centered around the question of whether this decision was morally reprehensible — which is not the right question to ask.

Is it a good idea to have a special law against handguns in the murder capital of the nation, my hometown? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say “Yes.” (Feel free to disagree.) Does the supreme court have the right to erase that law from the books if they find it to be unconstitutional? Also, “Yes.” Will that have negative effects? That’s not really an appropriate question for this particular judicial apparatus to be asking! (Think: “Did you have sex with that woman?”)

Recently Justice Scalia wrote (falsely, as it turns out) that Guantanamo detainees tend to end up back on the battlefield if they get released, hence it is a bad idea to grant them habeus corpus. That’s not the point! The question is not whether more Americans will die as a result of the decision. The question is whether denying habeus corpus to suspected terrorists is constitutional.

Today the NYTimes came out with an editorial that starts off like this:

“Thirty-thousand Americans are killed by guns every year — on the job, walking to school, at the shopping mall. The Supreme Court on Thursday all but ensured that even more Americans will die senselessly with its wrongheaded and dangerous ruling striking down key parts of the District of Columbia’s gun-control law.”

Again, that’s not the point. Neither side is addressing the issues in a straightforward way. I suppose that when crazy judges do stupid crap, the press is bound to react in a stupid way…but this only serves to feed the endless cycle of political bullshit.

I have as much loathing for the arch-conservative and famously failed Reagan SC appointee Robert Bork as the next liberal type — but in his book The Tempting of America (which I was forced to read in high school) Bork comes out against judicial activism and I wholeheartedly agree. Judges shouldn’t push their political agenda. That’s what Congress is for. When abortion activists march in front of the courts rather than rallying their local legislative assembly, something is definitely askew.

Obama is a former Constitutional Law professor and his book The Audacity of Hope addresses these issues pretty clearly. I’m not saying that I want to have Obama’s babies or anything (he’s nowhere near progressive enough for that kind of adoration…) But I can’t help it! In all my cynicism I’m holding out a tiny, timid ounce of hope that maybe having a reasonable person in the White House will increase the likelihood that sensible judges will be appointed to the highest court in the land.

This in turn might give the NYTimes editorial board less incentive to spew their brand of ultimately distracting middle class polemic quite so often and we’d all be slightly happier! 🙂


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One Response to “Questions”

  1. William Bruntrager Says:

    Damn it, after reading your first 1.5 paragraphs I was certain I was going to get to disagree with you. My salivary glands were already activated.

    Unfortunately, after reading the rest of your post I was forced to swallow my saliva and agree with your post entirely. NY Times editorials on the Supreme Court drive me insane for exactly the reason you cite. They basically ought to refrain from commenting on Supreme Court opinions, since they obviously don’t read the opinions or spend any time thinking about the legal basis for the Supreme Court’s decisions.

    I didn’t read their editorial on Heller, but the one on Guantanamo was bad enough. “We like the consequences of this decision, therefore it was a good decision and the dissenting opinions are a disgrace to the Court.” I’m pretty sure they don’t have a coherent concept of good government apart from a government that does whatever the NY Times editors want.

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