Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Court fails to resolve intensely divisive controversy

James Taranto writes on a WSJ blog:
Toward that end, in 1968 Brezhnev put forward an eponymous doctrine: "When forces that are hostile to socialism try to turn the development of some socialist country towards capitalism, it becomes not only a problem of the country concerned, but a common problem and concern of all socialist countries." The Soviet Union would intervene militarily to keep any communist country communist, as it had done earlier that year in Czechoslovakia and in 1956 in Hungary. Communism was a Roach Motel. Countries check in, but they don't check out. ...

But part of the reason is that Roe was just a lousy piece of judicial craftsmanship--so lousy that in reaffirming its "core holding" in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), a plurality of the justices pretty much rewrote the whole thing, mixing Rousseau (the infamous "sweet mystery of life" passage) with the Brezhnev Doctrine:
Where, in the performance of its judicial duties, the Court decides a case in such a way as to resolve the sort of intensely divisive controversy reflected in Roe and those rare, comparable cases, its decision has a dimension that the resolution of the normal case does not carry. It is the dimension present whenever the Court's interpretation of the Constitution calls the contending sides of a national controversy to end their national division by accepting a common mandate rooted in the Constitution.

The Court is not asked to do this very often, having thus addressed the Nation only twice in our lifetime, in the decisions of Brown [v. Board of Education] and Roe. But when the Court does act in this way, its decision requires an equally rare precedential force to counter the inevitable efforts to overturn it and to thwart its implementation.
He explains how Roe v Wade just caused more abortion controversy.

Brown v Board of Education also just caused more controversy. The opinion was based on dubious theorizing that black students could not learn unless white kids were in the classroom, and it started forced racial school busing. As an attempt to desegregate the public schools, it was a failure.

I did not realize that the US Supreme Court was under a delusion that it ended a national controversy with orders for forced racial school busing. The court used the issue to declare judicial supremacy over the other branches of government, and to expand its own powers. Nevertheless, the opinion is a big liberal sacred cow.

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