Thursday, February 18, 2010

"Th' Supreme Court follows th' illiction returns"

No matter whether th' Constitution follows th' flag or not, th' Supreme Court follows th' illiction returns.

Finley Peter Dunne

Finley Peter Dunne's Mr. Dooley said that more than a hundred years ago, and it's been received political wisdom ever since. If Mr. Dooley was, indeed, right, the court is soon to undergo a huge shake-up. Seems that 80 percent of Americans think that the recent decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which opened up the floodgates of corporate money in political campaigns, was misguided. (TONE thinks it was worse than that.) Almost three-quarters of respondents think Congress should take action to reinstate limits on spending, with a majority feeling strongly about the issue.

In the past--viz. the 1930's--one justice (the "swing" justice) shifted his position. In 1937. it was Owen Roberts. Today, given the hard-right orientation of four of the justices, it would have to be Anthony Kennedy. Or, the retirement of one of those who were in the majority in Citizens United, although that does not seem likely. Still, in the end, justices of the Supreme Court are political persons. They know that the court can only get so far ahead (or behind) the people before it damages itself as an institution; some of us would say that Citizens United, especially following as it does the discredited Bush v. Gore has done so.

Time to follow the electorate.

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