Supreme Court LegitimacyBy recent and prior developments, do you believe the Supreme Court has lost or gained legitimacy?

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marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first thought that comes to my mind is that no matter what the Supreme Court did, there would be those who would challenge its decisions or be unhappy about who was appointed.  The Supreme Court is made up of human beings, and human beings are subject to error.  Human error does not diminish the reverence and honor we should give to an office. 

I will give an extraneous example:  the President of the United States. Because we've had some bad presidents in the past doesn't give us the license to not respect the office of President of the United States. But, that doesn't mean we have to respect the President as a person, especially if he grossly errs in policy and procedure.  And no matter how good a president he may be, there are always going to be people who disagree with what he says and does.

The same holds true about The Supreme Court and their decisions.  Have they lost power or legitimacy?  Perhaps a little, but I believe they are doing the best that they can and they will never please everybody.  

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It seems to me that the Supreme Court's legitimacy doesn't really hinge on whether one agrees with its decisions or not. I fail to see how anyone could seriously accuse this court of being bullied into its decision by the president, with respect to some of the posters on this thread. There are always extraneous forces at work in every Supreme Court decision, because Supreme Court decisions are made by thinking people who come from ideological positions formed in part through their legal experience but also through their responses to contemporary policy issues. They are aware of the political consequences of their decisions. 

Many examples exist of politicians and others pressuring Supreme Court justices--off the top of my head, I know that President James Buchanan pressured a northern justice to side with the majority in the Dred Scott case to lessen the chance that the Court would be accused of pure sectionalism. It happens. The Court is political, and will be as long as it is comprised of human beings. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You're right, but it's not as if the public hasn't seen this before.  Years ago, Woodward and Bernstein wroteThe Brethern, which exposed just exactly what goes on in the Court's deliberations.  This did not destroy the Court's legitimacy.

The Affordable Care Act decision may actually help with this because all sides are angry at the Court.  It is hard to deride the Court as partisan when both left and right are angry at it.

The Court may also come to gain legitimacy if appointments in the near future tilt the political balance on the Court.  If there start to be a string of 6-3 decisions, it will seem less bad than 5-4 decisions.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I could not agree more with #5. I feel as if I would have written the post the same way myself. Human error is possible anywhere. Moreover, there has been talk about extraneous forces at work in this "surprising" decision from the Supreme Court. I certainly became one very disappointed American after the decision. For some reason, I was under that old impression that there are three branches of government balancing the power of one another, and not a one supreme leader bullying people into thinking the way that he does. 

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I, too have to ask the same question as #8, regarding the plausible involvement of President James Buchanan in pressuring a choice. What, then,  would hinder the current president from doing the same thing? 

Post #7 says, "politics are comprised of human beings", therefore the current administration is as capable to err as that of Buchanan. In the opinion of many, not just mine, that what occured in this case. 

e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The decision to consider corporation's rights as analogous to individual's rights in the realm of partisan politics and political spending seems, to me, to diminish the court's credibility. On the other hand, the decision to uphold Health Care Reform and the individual mandate suggests that the court is not as partisan in its decisions as we might have expected given some of the decisions leading up to this one.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If, as the previous poster remarks, President James Buchanan pressured a northern justice, why does it not seem possible that a current president or his people could put pressure upon a current Justice? By the way, Buchanan was not the "lone ranger." Others in history have done the same. 


ilrivas | Student

True that the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission hurt the courts in their credibility, but on the other hand the Affordable Care Act didn't help them much because of the political wrangling that was exposed. The American people can see the kind of pulling and tugging that happens behind closed door in the chambers . The way it came about was not good at all.