Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Nacho Supremes

What should the role of the Supreme Court be? Slate reviews a new book about it: Jeffery Rosen's The Most Democratic Branch.
it gives both a body and a voice to all this progressive uneasiness. First, Rosen channels some of the most agonized liberal legal scholarship (Roe v. Wade was both badly decided and terrible for progressives; Brown v. Board of Education wasn't really all that central to the project of desegregation). Then he ties it all up with this neat prescriptive bow: Supreme Court justices, in order to do justice, should do almost nothing at all.
Some folks may say this kind of thing is just picking nits, but I find such dialouge extremely important:
Like many moderate progressives, Rosen agrees with the outcomes of Brown, and Roe, and many other Warren and Burger Court opinions. But he also recognizes that many of those decisions were badly reasoned and extravagantly—even arrogantly—overwrought in constitutional scope. Rosen wants to root the best results of the Warren era in some fixed principle, even if that principle would be unrecognizable to Warren himself.
I might have to pick up a copy of this little ditty, even if the writing is dry. But, then again, I'm one of those 'true geeks' who really worries about the reasons behind everything, especially with the laws of our land.

I'll say right now that my idea of the Supreme Court was always that of a legislation and executive filter; either declaring laws unconstitutional (and therefore sending them back to the Legislature) or declaring enforcement proceedures and policies unconstitutional (and therefore sending those back to the Executive).

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