September 2, 2019 | Reading Time: 2 minutes
SCOTUS isn’t the final word on anything
In the wake of a Supreme Court decision in June that took a shiv to democracy, I said liberals really truly need understand something: “The high court is no longer your friend. It ceased being your friend nearly two decades ago. It was just hard to see until lately. It’s time to take matters into…
In the wake of a Supreme Court decision in June that took a shiv to democracy, I said liberals really truly need understand something: “The high court is no longer your friend. It ceased being your friend nearly two decades ago. It was just hard to see until lately. It’s time to take matters into our own hands.”
Two new books came out last month to explain what that means.
Reconsidering Judicial Finality is what it sounds like. Louis Fisher argues the Supreme Court isn’t the final word on matters of law and constitutionality. In fact, to see it that way is to give it far more power than it should have. His dedication is a good taste of what readers can expect from the book:
This book is dedicated to the concept that constitutional government in the United States is promoted by [members of our political community]. The concept of judicial finality is fundamentally at odds with the principles of democracy, self-government and individual liberty.
Fisher wrote a blurb for the second book on the same theme, The Political Constitution by Greg Weiner. In that book, also published last month, Weiner argues the Supreme Court is just one of many actors who participate in the res publica—the public interest, the common good, or the social contract.
In other words, Supreme Court decisions are as political as they are judisprudential. According to Weiner, what’s needed is a radical expansion of res publica, which is no easy feat in a country like ours in which much of the public square has been privatized over the last four decades or so. Fisher:
In this insightful study, Greg Weiner explains why the Supreme Court on constitutional matters should not be treated as an entirely independent branch. Instead, it is part of the political process and fully subject to independent analysis, public debate, and the system of checks and balances. In the act of governing, the judiciary is a coequal partner, not a superior branch.
John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.