Monday, July 14, 2008

My Ideal Supreme Court

Talking about the Supreme Court, it got me thinking, what is the ideal court? I've thought about this before. Put simply, my ideal court would have two far-right jurists (who still have healthy disagreement with each other), two far-left jurists (who also disagree) and then five centrists with two leaning left, two leaning right, and one leaning neither way. All would have a healthy dose of libertarian in them, probably manifested more economically in the right-wing and more socially in the left, but combined into both in the five centrists.

I would favor this makeup because this would give several voices to each end of the spectrum on the court, which is always important on every case, and yet it would not let either extreme dominate or ever write an opinion without the cooperation of centrists.

What our current court lacks, sadly, is any left-wing jurists. The court is basically made up now of four far-right judges, one right-of-center judge, and then four moderate judges that, at the far end, are only slightly left of center. So basically the court goes from the far right to the center, and that's it. There are no liberal voices to be heard in deliberations. Even were there a single lonely voice there, that could make a lot of difference because at least that point of view would be heard and could give some perspective to the other eight justices. Absent that voice, you have an echo chamber of far-right mixed with the center, which just pushes things further and further right.

My ideal court would have those voices on both sides, but would not allow either side to dominate. I think that would be wonderful if we could get it. Unfortunately, it is not likely to happen within my lifetime, given the current makeup of the court. And even with an Obama victory, we'd still not likely get there - Obama will probably appoint center or center-left candidates to replace other center-lefts (Stevens and Ginsburg), leaving the court basically the same. Which is still a far cry better than ending up with six far-right justices and three centrists, still with no liberals. At least that would keep the status quo. There's even a small glimmer of hope that he'd appoint a true progressive or even two, giving that voice back to the court which it has lacked for so long. The court would still be slanted strongly to the right, but at least we'd be one step closer to my ideal.

(One of these days I'll have to post on the Michigan Supreme Court - the most radical right Supreme Court in the country).

1 comment:

Bing said...

My ideal supreme court would give the justices a secure job for six or seven years. Then they would be sent to panhandle. This "for life" shit is just goofy. I think that the court needs a little freshening up every so often to protect against an ideologue setting the court's disposition for, say, decades.