Monday, June 29, 2015

Lock-Step Justice

When we consider the Supreme Court, we're talking about nine people, all successful lawyers and (as it turns out), educated at just two schools.  Harvard or Yale.  Generally, they divide into three camps, and you'll see each of them described as either liberal, conservative, or independent.  It normally shakes out like this"

Conservatives: Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Roberts
Liberals: Breyer, Sotomayer, Ginsburg, and Kagan
Independent: Kennedy.

I consider Roberts an independent, because his record certainly doesn't indicate that he's conservative.  However, he's normally listed int he conservative camp, simply because he was nominated by George W. Bush.  So be it.

Dissent is patriotic and last week we saw withering dissents from Justice Scalia.  He is noted for such dissent, taking the other justices to task, whether consservative or liberal.  Justice Thomas also dissents, often disagreeing with even opinions that are conservative.  Occasionally, all nine justices come down on the same side of an issue with a 9-0 decision.  More often, we see a split, most often 5-4 with Kennedy being the deciding vote as we saw last wek in the same-sex marriage case.

Disssents are interesting, because they present an opposing viewpoint, letting us see the reasoning of our Justices.  I admit I'm no lawyer, but a good dissent is a joy to read.  Often we'll see a conservative justice agree with the majority in part, and dissent in part, going along with the conclusion, but dissenting on a particular point of law.  These are especially illuminating.

What I've never seen are the liberal justices dissenting among themselves.  I've done some small research this weekend as time permitted, and I can't find a sinlge instance where (for example) Sotomayer dissented from Kagaan, or Breyer dissented from Ginsburg.  It's as if they march in lockstep, arms joined, to uphold the liberal viewpoint.  That's quite interesting.  Or maybe the liberal justices don't have individual viewpoints, which is quite distressing.

It's as if the conservatives squabble among themselves, often pointing out individual reasoning and arguing points of law, while the liberal justices don't have individual opinions.  It's groupthink or nothing to advance an agenda.  For the Nation's high court, that's quite a sad commentary.

Again, I'm no lawyer, and I only notice the Supremes when they're screwing with me.  I'd prefer that they'd leave me alone, but sometimes they come up on my personal radar.

And, I would remind the Justices that the 10th Amendment exists for a reason.


Termite said...

In the past Ginsburg has written some opinions, which stated that while she did support the liberal decision, it was for different reasons than the majority stated. However, that was years ago, she hasn't done it in quite some time, IIRC.

As for the 39 states that have been ordered by courts to recognise gay marriage, I would like to see the States refuse. If the states were ordered by a state court to do it, it's pretty much a non-issue, because the governor or county sheriff can simply ignore the decree. State courts have little enforcement power if the constabulary refuse to aid them.

Ignoring federal courts is more problematic, but can be done. Sheriff Joe is infamous for it.

6ShotsOr5? said...

Tip'o'hat PawPaw, and Termite too.