Monday, July 8, 2013

Prof. Stephen L. Carter - The Supreme Court Matters Less Than You Think

In a classic “Doonesbury” cartoon from July 1973, the chief justice of the U.S. prefaces the reading of an opinion with these words: “Well, we’ve been conferring like crazy, and I think we have got ourselves another snappy 5-4 decision.” And, lo, here we are, almost exactly 40 years later, at the end of yet another Supreme Court term full of snappy -- and controversial -- 5-4 decisions.
We’re accustomed to following the court closely, as if the course of the world’s future is determined every time the justices, from the mysterious peak of their Capitol Hill Olympus, toss down one of their constitutional thunderbolts. We take surveys on how people want the court’s more controversial decisions to come out -- a strange exercise in a country where more Americans can correctly name the Three Stooges than the three branches of government.