“If the policy of the Government upon the vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by the decisions of the Supreme Court,” Lincoln said in his first inaugural address, “the people will have ceased to be their own rulers.”
In a recent roundtable meeting a friend and associate had noted (to paraphrase) that the Chief Justice Roberts was making sure that, the concept as we are experiencing it, of the supreme court remains. I wasn’t quite sure of what he meant until I started reading about the court a bit more.
Our Supreme Court maintains more authority than most high courts in other countries. In most countries the court rules on laws and their validity according to a constitutional base as it does in America. But in America the court throws out the entire law, where in other countries the high court most often has legislators rewrite the offending aspect of the law. The American courts appear much more assertive in rulings on law.
Our constitution leaves the size, the duration of terms, and general organization of the supreme court to congress. The Supreme Court members are not chosen by the general public, but by congress. And as we are witnessing the congress as a whole can ignore the overall wishes of the voting public.
When talk about the rulings of the Supreme Court we assume they are interpreting the laws toward the Constitution, but like any other court decisions are based on personal perception, beliefs, and prejudices. For the last 2 decades the Supreme Court has practice what is called judicial supremacy by legal professionals.
At anytime the congress can vote to change how the courts look and participate in the American laws and more importantly democracy. America has lost the right to its vote for presidency via the Electoral College which in many states does not have to vote the will of the popular vote but the will of the party that put them into the position.
The glitches in our democracy is that we have loss or perhaps never had the a true say in our presidents and courts. We have allowed prejudices to run amok in our system. We have, perhaps out of laziness or ignorance allowed small groups of people decide the course of our laws. We have allowed freedom to become a will of beliefs rather than reason and critical thought and reasoning. Thus, we no longer have a vision of the future and the consequences of our current acts and laws. We have what Thane Walker, founder of The Prosperos called a psychopath culture that marginalizes individuals, groups, and freedoms.
The Republican Party has lost the popular vote in the last 6 of 7 elections. Despite this their influence on the courts leaves the wishes of the general public in the background with the loaded Supreme Court. The Supreme Court as it is now is dictating the future of climate change, women’s body choices, voting rights, economic justice, and much more for many years ahead.
What is more disturbing is that the science, the sanity of looking at causes and history are totally ignored. The feudal systems of thousands of years are still playing out in America. It is more than capitalism and the hunger for power it is ignorance of what we can do with a congress and a president that is capable of thinking sanely with an eye to the future of all of its citizens.
The balance of the coming years lays in the hand of congress. They can increase the number of judges that sit on the court, they can change the way the court votes moving the vote from a simple majority to a 6 out of 7 votes to strike down federal and state laws. They could also institute a practice of having certain aspects of a law rather than throwing out the whole law.
Judicial supremacy causes the forfeiting of political power by the majority of Americans.
Probably the most viable of all ideas limiting judicial supremacy is limiting the terms of justices. It appears that there might be a bill in the works to do this.
© 2020 Suzanne Deakins