A recent poll by FineLaw.com, a part of the respected company, Thompson Reuters, found recently that two thirds of Americans can’t even name one person on the United States Supreme Court. All that fighting to pick Supreme Court justices, senate confirmation hearings, television coverage, liberals and conservatives both warning of dire consequences…
Does it make much difference? After all, most people can’t name their senators, congress people, mayors, etc. Does it make much difference?
Granted, the Supremes do get the fun of playing referee and often make decisions that have repercussions for years–the Roe v. Wade decision from the 1970’s, for instance. But when you think of all the things most of us have to keep track of every day, how can anyone keep track of some old dudes? (And women)
It’s interesting to note that for most of our American history, the Supreme Court was relatively quiet. They viewed their role narrowly and seldom upset the apple cart. If Congress passed a law, the Supremes were content to let it stand.
When Franklin Roosevelt passed immense amounts of legislation creating new agencies and government programs, the Court peeked out of the stuffy courtroom and struck down much of his legislation. Even then, who remembers the people who made those decisions?
Does it make any difference that most Americans probably don’t care who sits on the court?
But you say, what about the Senate confirmation hearings and the President’s power to place conservative or liberal judges on the bench? Don’t we all get upset over those appointments?
I’m not so sure we do. The media get upset, small groups of politically active people do, but do the majority of Americans get upset? I don’t think so. How could they when they’ve forgotten the controversial names that have reached the Supreme Court?
Besides, once a president appoints, it’s a life-time appointment. A good example of how justices don’t “follow the rules,” was Chief Justice Earl Warren. He began his political career as the county prosecutor in Oakland, California. He went on to become governor of California where he supported Dwight Eisenhower for president in 1952. As a reward for that support, Eisenhower appointed Warren to the Supremes, confident that Warren, a former prosecutor, would vote as a solid conservative.
Warren went on to become one of the most active, ambitious, and liberal justices in modern history. Eisenhower was quoted as saying, “Worst damn decision of my presidency,” about his selection.
Do you know any of the names of the justices? Are there any women on the court? Blacks? Asians? Do you know their religious backgrounds? Is it important to you day-to-day? Should it be?
Let me know how many justices you can name? I dare you to try!!