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Time to Reform the Supreme Court?

July 2, 2013

Let’s make this short and sweet.  Reform is in the air, so perhaps its time to take a look at tweaking some of the procedures which affect the United States Supreme Court.  I continue to suggest that recognizing the validity of a ruling which has been decided by a 5/4 vote is wrong on any number of levels, including how it affects the standing such a court enjoys in the minds of the general citizenry.

There is nothing in the US Constitution which prevents the Congress from requiring that the Supreme Court meet a higher standard than a simple majority when reaching a final decision.  The fact that “the people”, as well as “the States”, both need 2/3rds majorities in order to amend the constitution would seem to point out a certain disparity when the Supreme Court can do the same thing with a simple majority.  Need I even point out the differences in scale?

Let’s keep this short and sweet.  Isn’t it time to reform the Supreme Court and we don’t even need a Constitutional Amendment to do it?

I invite those with a greater flair for presentation to consider the points I have raised here as an attempt to get the conversation started.




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  1. Chloe permalink

    Your point makes excellent sense to me…why should they be allowed to rule with a simple majority when the people and the state cannot?

  2. Perhaps, it’s quite an idea.

    The problem stems from a misconception about the Supreme Court’s role. Their role is not, even though some recent decisions (i.e. Windsor) have blurred the line, to make additions to the Constitution. Instead, the purpose is to interpret the Constitution and how it interacts with currently produced legislation. There’s no ‘amending’ of the Constitution going on at all, in theory and often in fact.

    5-4 decisions comprise a small, even miniscule, amount of the jurisprudence produced by the court. Yet requiring the Court to attain a higher level of agreement could make those decisions much less troubling–if less decisive–than they have been previously…

    • Thanks for your comment.. I took the time to take a look at your site as well…

      I’m afraid that I remain a bit confused as to whether we agree or disagree on the main points.

      I stand by my suggestion that the Supreme Court often “amends” the Constitution under the guise of “interpreting” it and thus while agreeing with you on the intended purpose may not agree with you on the actual outcome.

      As to the percentage of decisions which fall under the definition of 5/4 rulings it would seem to me that the number is too high, particularly when one takes into account the far reaching effects these rulings seem to have. It seems we may agree and yet I am not sure why you suggest that changing the criteria might result in “less decisive rulings”.

      Thanks again.

      • I think I agree and disagree… I think I was born an argumentative fellow. A birth defect.

        I think we agree though, in a lot of things, but I just doubt the proposed solution’s efficacy. If we are not talking about ‘first principles,’ and if we are more focused on the daily-grind of the Supreme Court, it seems a little backwards to try to change the first principles of the Supreme Court in an effort to affect its daily-grind. Certainly there can be something less radical that achieves the same effect…?

        When I mentioned ‘less decisive’ I was imagining a higher threshold for offering opinions, like 6-3 or even 7-2. If that was the case I think it would cause a more concerted effort by the court to produce an opinion that everyone, or nearly everyone, could agree on. The only way that could happen is if the decision, quite simply, decided less and was ‘less decisive.’

        I think I’m messing up my basic points here… But hopefully you’ve gotten something from this argle bargle?

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