Why We Should Read the SCOTUS Decisions
As Americans cry out about the Supreme Court’s decisions, we should make sure that we actually know what they say before engaging.
From The Daily Wire. No matter which issue concerns you the most, chances are we Americans are debating it in some fashion. Thus, here is a suggestion that will significantly improve the state of American civic discourse. I know it’s abundantly optimistic and maybe a bit naive, but here it is: pick at least one Supreme Court decision from this year’s consequential term and take an hour to read it….
Don’t treat these decisions and the entire judicial branch as arenas for gladiatorial legal throw-downs. In reality, as Woodrow Wilson once observed, the Supreme Court is “a constitutional convention in continuous session.” Every year, nine extraordinary and unique legal minds have an extended conversation amongst themselves about the meaning of the Constitution on a variety of issues.
This year it was abortion and gun rights and the free exercise of religion. Next year it will be affirmative action and election law. And unlike the other two branches, the judicial branch does something utterly extraordinary: it bestows a civic gift to the American people, a gift we rarely unwrap. The Supreme Court justices go to great lengths to explain why they do what they do and why they think the way they think. As Americans, we have the opportunity to drink from the jurisprudential trough of their insights.
But instead, we often engage in shallow knee-jerk political cheerleading.
We can do better. The decisions are actually quite easy to read….
You Might Learn Something
The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision is a perfect illustration of why Americans should read Supreme Court opinions.
Many Americans dislike the Roe and Casey decisions because they dislike abortion. But it would be wise to understand why so many consider Roe a grievous constitutional mistake. It is also important to learn how the majority behaved akin to a quasi-legislature in its 1973 written opinion, and why even the likes of Ruth Bader Ginsburg thought it was a poorly reasoned and executed decision….
Alito lays out in the Dobbs decision why arguments grounded in substantive due process do not apply to abortion. In his concurrence, Clarence Thomas lays waste to the entire doctrine of “substantive due process” itself.
Finally, people who are down on John Roberts these days might become more sympathetic to his judicial posture if they took the time to read his dissent. … Roberts would have preferred it if the Court had simply upheld the Mississippi law in question by rejecting “the viability rule” without courting the controversy overturning Roe would invite. As he writes, “The Court’s opinion is thoughtful and thorough, but those virtues cannot compensate for the fact that its dramatic and consequential ruling is unnecessary to decide the case before us.”
You Might Change Your Mind, Reinforce Your Convictions, Or Find Empathy
As citizens, it is important to know our own convictions, but it’s also important to understand why we believe what we believe….
[The] Dobbs dissent is thoughtful, noting, ”As of today, this Court holds, a State can always force a woman to give birth, prohibiting even the earliest abortions. A State can thus transform what, when freely undertaken, is a wonder into what, when forced, may be a nightmare.” It is no small thing in a rights-based society to rescind a right, even if one believes it was incorrectly granted in the first place….
Appreciating the perspectives of those with whom we disagree isn’t simply a pleasant gesture, it’s an essential quality of good citizenship….
What did you think of the past Supreme Court term? Share your thoughts and prayers below.
(Excerpt from The Daily Wire. Photo Credit: Getty Images)
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