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The Supreme Court’s Ultimate Coup: It Makes the Most Consequential Decisions


The Supreme Court’s Ultimate Coup: It Makes the Most Consequential Decisions

John Buell

The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia should be an occasion to re-examine one of his favorite themes: the intent of the Founding Fathers.


The Supreme Court’s Ultimate Coup: It Makes the Most Consequential Decisions

Unless or until the people who are expected to obey its decision decide not to do so. Then we are faced with two alternatives: Either compelling obedience by force of arms (as Ike did by sending in the 10Ist. Airborne troops to desegregate Central High in Little Rock AR in 1957) or complete anarchy (as Andrew Jackson did with his famous comment: "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it." --Worcester vs Georgia 1832--and both Georgia and Jackson simply ignored the decision).
The Supreme Court's authority is ultimately dependent on the response of the people affected by its decisions.


"The Court’s exceptional prerogatives represented the pride and triumph of its longstanding fourth chief justice, John Marshall. The Court’s right was simply asserted in what amounts to a judicial coup, analogous to the role the Court played in usurping the 2000 election. Marshall’s triumph has endured, and we are the worse for it."

Of course Mr. Buell is referring to the disastrous Marbury v. Madison case, establishing the doctrine of judicial review. When I was a student, oh so many years ago, nary a soul in academia questioned the legitimacy of that decision. Indeed, it was, and it still is by many, considered a stroke of genius on Marshall's part. I think Bernie understands this and will appoint appropriately, until the Constitution can be amended prohibiting judical review, and don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.


Meh. SCOTUS has almost always been the most reactionary of the branches overall, with some brief but spectacular exceptions.
But any people who submit to judicial rule are unworthy of democracy.
Unaccountable Star Chambers have been the hallmark of autocracies probably forever. Whether they're enforcing the King's wishes, the Lords' wishes, or the Plutocrats wishes makes little difference.
But we're stuck with this rotten apparatus short of revolution, and it's one of the prime pieces of evidence for those who believe this political system cannot self-correct: SCOTUS largely prevents that. The only way to end run SCOTUS has always been the single hardest political act in America; amend the Constitution, which is harder now than it has ever been.


Abolishing judicial review would mean the end of constitutional rights. For example, if Congress passed a law interfering with freedom of the press, the Count would not strike it down, but simply enforce it. This seems to work fine in Britain where the courts have no power of judicial review.


the word is disastrous.




The Supreme irony


Continuing the discussion from The Supreme Court’s Ultimate Coup: It Makes the Most Consequential Decisions:

Implications of term "gerontocracy": the cliche accusation would be "ageism" here. I would maintain that , yes, the likelihood of Supreme Court Justices being "older" than your average office holder is more connected with long term experience than with non-existent statutory requirements. The emotional components of the "geriatric" condition are likely to carry a certain stability. The problems with our tripartite governmental structure, so called checks and balances, may be systemic, and open for debate - but the term "gerontocracy"leads to irrational and irrelevant associations.


I am still confused in how the Supreme Court Majority got the authority to re-define the meaning and intent of words to change US Constitutional law abuse. Money is in fact is only a tool that is often used in delivery of free speech, and not free speech in it's self. The decision was abuse of power. The same holds true for the idiot decision that corporations or unions are people, when they are merely creations of people, beside the fact that corporations do not vote and do not have US citizenship, and members there in could very well be anti-US.


Rather than serving as an institution promoting democracy, it is a tool of corporatocracy.

SCOTUS made another power move (a la 2000 elections) for coal plants, against the livability of the world.

Why do we let corporations resolve disputes in our courts when they can certainly afford alternate means? Moreover, why is access to our courts not a business expense for them? They really shouldn't be permitted to externalize costs of conflict to the public.


The SCOTUS has time and again demonstrated that it won't represent "We the People". I believe one of the major reasons is that the small number of judges on the court preclude such representation. One solution would be to increase the number of justices on the court.

A certain number of Justices could be chosen from defined regions of the nation by being nominated by representatives of the people in those regions. By increasing both the number and diversity of the SCOTUS a more equitable and representative Court could be created without violating the Constitution.


"American democracy is unusual though not unique in the range of issues it leaves to an unelected body."
I would like to know of any democracy which allows partisan appointment of judges at all, let alone the Supreme Court. They should be elected by their peers, for competence and judgment, and should not be allowed to wallow for life in a body of such importance.


There is no Constitutional provision for lifetime appointment to the SCOTUS. It's tradition not constitutional.