Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Supreme Possibilities

With Rehnquist's illness, more focus will go to the Supremes, much to the dismay of Diana Ross.

But seriously, it has become more and more obvious to me that the function of the Supreme Court really is to slow the course of change within American society. A decision by the Supreme Court has far-reaching implications that can affect American society for multiple generations. The three most striking examples are Dred Scott, which may have led directly to the Civil War; Plessy v. Ferguson, which, more or less, established the Separate-but-Equal standard; and, of course, Roe v. Wade.

While one of the Court's functions is to balance the legislature, the Court's lifetime appointments serve to ensure some consistent interpretations of the law for decades. Chief Justice Rehnquist has been on the court for the last 32 years, longer than I have been around. Clarence Thomas has been on the Court 13 years already, and he could potentially be there 25 years from now. The thought that the next President could appoint 2-4 new justices in the next 4 years is a staggering thought. These new appointees would probably define the court for the next 30 years. Amazing and frightening.

Post a Comment