The Supreme Court will surely become one of Washington's discordant notes. The nation's gone liberal--the Democrats control everything, and, taking advantage of the great crisis, will spend madly on great public works and social causes. But then there's the Supreme Court with its near (but not quite) dominant conservative majority, certain to frustrate the liberal will. It's ready, the Times says, to mess with the exclusionary rule for ill-gotten evidence in criminal trials that's helped keep the police in check for two generations.
Still, there's something about the Court that makes it hard to get too riled up about. Once it was a lightning rod. Impeaching Earl Warren, the chief justice in the Court's most liberal years, was a great cause of conservatives. Opposing conservative nominees, including the vastly odd Clarence Thomas, was a passionate Democratic pastime of the Reagan and first Bush administrations.
But then, relatively speaking, nothing. For one thing it's been a teeter-tottering Court. The worst never happens. For another, nobody leaves--these incredibly, horrifyingly old people hang on well past reasonable retirement age. In some sense the mission of the court has been merely to preserve itself, its look, feel and balance. For another: Both conservatives and liberals have come to believe the court shouldn't lead, but should merely clarify (which, in actuality, turns out to mean further muddy everything). And, finally, the court is made up of lawyers: Nobody wants to think about lawyers, who, whether conservative or liberal, tend just to obstruct and befoul.
All but the most tormented (another reason for not thinking too hotly about the Court is a desire not to be like the people who actually think hotly about it) end up concluding about the court: whatever.
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