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Is the Supreme Court Legitimate?

Is the Supreme Court Legitimate?

Politics, perception, and pretense in America's judicial wars, with Jason Willick.

Does the United States Supreme Court’s legitimacy hang in the balance — or is it itself the balance keeping the union centered?

After handing down blockbuster decisions this term on gerrymandering, executive authority and affirmative action, the highest court in the land is facing fierce criticism from progressives in the media and in elected office. This week, we welcomed Washington Post columnist

back on the podcast to help us unpack it all.

Jason discusses how the Court’s decision to outlaw affirmative action in higher education was straightforward and popular. But after the Court’s unpopular decision last year striking down a constitutional right to an abortion, the grounds for accepting the high court’s rulings based on popularity appears to be all but dependent on whether one finds any given outcome favorable.

questions the coherence of liberal arguments when it comes to popular decisions that go against the left’s expectations. Meanwhile, makes the case that despite it being undeniable the Court operates with political considerations, pretense is a critical aspect to the institution’s survival.

In the full episode (for paying subscribers only) Shadi raises concerns about the perception of the Court’s legitimacy among Democrats. After threats against the justices and warnings from Democratic lawmakers, the three discuss scenarios that could provoke efforts to stack the deck. The conversation winds down as the guys acknowledge that when it comes down to it, the law is not neutral; it is political.

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Required Reading:

  • “Sorry, Democrats, there is no Supreme Court ‘legitimacy’ crisis,” by Jason Willick (Washington Post).

  • “How John Roberts is outmaneuvering his critics,” by Jason Willick (Washington Post).

  • “This is the most mischaracterized Supreme Court case in recent history,” by Jason Willick (Washington Post).

  • “The Supreme Court will increasingly control U.S. elections,” by Jason Willick (Washington Post).

  • “Trump’s Justices Didn’t Doom Affirmative Action. Demography Did.” by Christopher Caldwell (New York Times).

  • “What’s Behind the Conservative Rift on the Supreme Court,” by Sarah Isgur (Politico).

  • Jason’s interview with sociologist Nathan Glazer (Wall Street Journal).

  • Inventing the People, by Edmund Morgan (Amazon).


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