Monday, June 15, 2009

Relevance of the United States Supreme Court: limited to nip and tuck?

How important is the United States Supreme Court?

Democracy: A Journal of Ideas has an interesting review

the Court will nip and tuck, but it won’t go near vital organs. It will trim the reach of the federal government by reading statutes narrowly, but it will not involve the reshaping of the Republic’s core policy commitments.

This does not mean the Supreme Court is irrelevant. It will continue to matter on social issues such as abortion, sexual privacy, and equality issues related to sexual orientation. Its opinions in these matters will be of great consequence to millions of people.

This seems a bit contradictory.  And perhaps their argument regarding the Court's ruling in Heller that there is an individual right to bear arms under the Second Amendment may be a bit premature:

 the ruling was narrowly written, and what seemed to be a landmark opinion has had surprisingly little effect on other gun laws and other governmental regulations of firearms. Indeed, narrowing language in Justice Scalia’s majority opinion in Heller makes it perfectly clear that the Court will not endorse challenges to gun regulations that have broad popular support–even though these laws should be equally vulnerable to constitutional challenge given the majority’s own logic.

But this is a thoughtful review, especially given its brevity, of three books that merit reading this summer:

Lincoln and the CourtImageDB
by Brian McGinty
Harvard University Press • 2008 • 384 pages • $18.95 (Paperback)

FDR v. the Constitution
by Burt Solomon
Walker & Company • 2009 • 352 pages • $27

The Supreme Court and the American Elite
by Lucas A. Powe, Jr.
Harvard University Press • 2009 • 432 pages • $29.95


Books, History, Scholarship | Permalink

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