All-in-all, we have a pretty decent system with regards to legal jurisprudence, but there are purists left and right who would dismantle it. Because it is imperfect and jury-rigged, it is vulnerable to their jibes.These days it is the right that seems to hold the cards (or votes) on the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court speaks not only through its rulings in cases argued before it, but also through its choice not to hear certain cases -- the ones denied certiorari, in legal lingo. By refusing to hear claims brought by victims of Bush-era torture and detention practices, and failing to decisively reject the government's array of bad excuses for denying them a modicum of justice, the Court in recent years has sent an appalling message of indifference and impunity. These missing cases constitute a profound stain on the court's record, and they are worth recalling on this week's tenth anniversary of John Roberts's swearing-in as Chief Justice.
Americans expect justices differ. But they also expect the Court to be the place those differences, particularly in cases that affect people's rights, are carefully explained in written opinions, and are reached only after extensive written and public oral argument. Recently, however, the Roberts Court has abandoned that principled process.
The "conservative" justices on the Roberts Court are often passionately restrained in their interpretation of the Constitution in precisely the cases in which a more muscular form of judicial review is most appropriate -- those involving discrimination against African Americans, women, Hispanics, religious dissenters, gays and lesbians, persons accused of crime, and denial of the right to vote to minorities and the poor. In these cases, our contemporary "conservative" justices often err on the side of upholding laws that even Philip Kurland would have found unconstitutional. This is, in my view, a sad state of affairs.