Close Read: Twenty-Seven Hundred Pages for Antonin Scalia
[Via The New Yorker]
Here’s where a person could lose just a little bit of patience with the Supreme Court: in the midst of an exchange with Deputy Solicitor Edwin Kneedler, Justice Antonin Scalia saw an obstacle he didn’t like:
JUSTICE SCALIA: You really want us to go through these 2,700 pages? (Laughter.)
JUSTICE SCALIA: And do you really expect the Court to do that? Or do you expect us to give this function to our law clerks?
JUSTICE SCALIA: Is this not totally unrealistic? That we’re going to go through this enormous bill item by item and decide each one?
Not everyone is going to agree with every instance where the Supreme Court decides constitutional issues. It is not often easy and they usually do not get the easiest of cases.
But I would certainly hope that the judges and/or their staff would actually read the laws they were deciding on.
How do they determine what is constitutional if they do not know what the law states?
The judges have talked about things not even in the law, or about things from various digests of the law.
But Scalia’s own words demonstrate he has not actually read the law.
It appears that the Supreme Court is now no longer judging whether a law meets constitutional muster but are judging whether the Executive Summary they like most meets constitutional muster.
Is this really how we want our laws decided?
The last major period in the Supreme Court where decisions were made by political viewpoints rather than actual jurisprudence was the Lochner Era. Virtually all of their major decisions have been repudiated by the American people.
They gave us separate but equal (Plessy v. Ferguson), threw out child labor laws (Hammer v. Dagenhart), threw out 40 hour workweeks (Lochner v. New York), threw out minimum wage laws (Adkins v. Children’s Hospital), and pretty much did everything they could to disallow anything that dealt with interstate commerce, such as coal mine safety, the selling of sick chickens and farm subsidies.
Yes, the Lochner era court felt that a segregated population where labor, including children, took whatever conditions management offered – even if it was 60 hours a week and poverty wages – while working in unsafe conditions and eating unsafe food, was what America should be.
Few of us today would like to live in that America. Most of us would be repelled by the decisions made by the Lochner Era court.
But I bet they all read all of the laws they were deciding on.
What a shadow of greatness the current Supreme Court has become.