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Do Supreme Court Justices Have Their Own Political Agendas?

Sixty percent of voters believe the justices on the US Supreme Court have their own political agendas, according to a recent Rasmussen Reports poll. Only 23 percent of participants think the Court's members are impartial.

Presidential candidates seem to agree that the Supreme Court is political. John McCain said that the dangerous decision to grant Guantanamo Bay detainees habeas corpus stressed the importance of electing him to appoint conservative judges. Barack Obama argued the exact opposite — that the fragile majority must be protected.

While it's impossible to expect any person to be completely impartial, the notion of a political agenda implies that (at least internally) articulated policy goals would primarily inform how a justice decides a case. In other words, an agenda suggests that justices would put political interest, before legal principles. It seems bothersome if undemocratically elected and lifetime appointed government officials are motivated by politics. And don't forget — you don't have to be an "activist judge" to have an agenda; strict construction furthers somebody's policy goals, too.

Do you think there's a difference between being subjective and having a political agenda? Do you care if justices, who are appointed by the President and approved by the Senate, are political?

Do you think the Supreme Court justices sit on the bench with political agendas?

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lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Kittycat, there is no need to be rude and condescending simply because someone disagrees with you. You never explained what you disagreed with, you just said my explanation wasn't satisfactory. By its very nature, that statement implies that you desire something else to make the statement satisfactory. People on Citizen are typically so respectful; I hope if you stick around you can learn to continue that trend.
lovelie lovelie 7 years
Not to mention, it is one of the hardest cases to read, and after going over the text 100x, I still do not really see a concrete violation of the Equal Protection Clause.
lovelie lovelie 7 years
I agree with you kittycat about Bush v. Gore. There are very firm guidelines as to which types of cases the Supreme Court are allowed to take...cases involving political questions are not one of them!!
kittycat8 kittycat8 7 years
Lilkimbo: First, I don't "need" anything further, thanks, I raised the points I wanted to make with regard to your argument. Secondly, Bush v. Gore, in my opinion, is an embarrassing mark in Supreme Court history because it essentially involved the judicial branch reaching into the executive branch and placing a president in power. This clearly violates our Constitution. I think that's wrong, many people agree, many others don't. I mean, what is the law we gain from Bush v. Gore? It didn't establish any principles to apply in the future, it functioned only to place George W. Bush into office. That is not the Supreme Court's business. Indeed, it would be very difficult to argue there were no political motivations in the decision. You may not agree, and that is fine. In fact, we could devote another 100 posts to that topic alone, but I don't think that's necessary. This is my last post in this particular thread, so you don't need to "check back" for anything else with which to take issue. Best of luck.
kittycat8 kittycat8 7 years
Lilkimbo: First, I don't "need" anything further, thanks, I raised the points I wanted to make with regard to your argument. Secondly, Bush v. Gore, in my opinion, is an embarrassing mark in Supreme Court history because it essentially involved the judicial branch reaching into the executive branch and placing a president in power. This clearly violates our Constitution. I think that's wrong, many people agree, many others don't.I mean, what is the law we gain from Bush v. Gore? It didn't establish any principles to apply in the future, it functioned only to place George W. Bush into office. That is not the Supreme Court's business. Indeed, it would be very difficult to argue there were no political motivations in the decision. You may not agree, and that is fine. In fact, we could devote another 100 posts to that topic alone, but I don't think that's necessary. This is my last post in this particular thread, so you don't need to "check back" for anything else with which to take issue. Best of luck.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Oh, and I wanted to say that I agree that there is no right answer. I guess I don't understand what further justification you want for my viewpoint, short of launching in to a complicated, long explanation on a chat board!
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Anyway, I have to go for the day and possibly the weekend, but I'll check back to see if you need further explanation and to see your explanation of why Bush v. Gore is a legal embarrassment.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Well, I take part of that back. I think the stuff about common law and U.S. legal history is legally relevant, but the other information, not so much.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Basically, I think everything before section 8 is not needed, from a legal standpoint. I think I've already pointed out why, but if you need more, let me know.
lavieenrose lavieenrose 7 years
The justices experiences and beliefs definitely shape their decisions. They're supposed to be impartial but everyone has a bias, which is human nature. I'd like to think their biases don't cross the line to political agendas, but it's hard to judge that and it's hard to understand why each justice decides in a particular way. On another note, I find it funny that McCain wants to appoint more conservative justices. The Supreme Court has become more and more conservative since about the 1970s, with the exception of Bill Clinton's two justices. The other seven have all been appointed by Republicans.
lavieenrose lavieenrose 7 years
The justices experiences and beliefs definitely shape their decisions. They're supposed to be impartial but everyone has a bias, which is human nature. I'd like to think their biases don't cross the line to political agendas, but it's hard to judge that and it's hard to understand why each justice decides in a particular way.On another note, I find it funny that McCain wants to appoint more conservative justices. The Supreme Court has become more and more conservative since about the 1970s, with the exception of Bill Clinton's two justices. The other seven have all been appointed by Republicans.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
While I'm finding these quotes, I would like to know what you think is embarrassing, from a legal standpoint, about Bush v. Gore.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Kittycat, I suggested you re-read my comments because you are clearly making them more than what they are. I never stated that a woman's right to privacy is illegal. I stated (and I will state again now) that the terminology used in the opinion is not all "legal terminology." I went on to clarify, which is why I suggested you read my comments again. I want to know what further support you want. I have been accused of being long winded on these boards, but if you would like, I can provide specific passages from the text that I do not think have anything to do with legal issues. I think I did support my point satisfactorily, but apparently you do not. Let me know what further information you need.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Kittycat, I suggested you re-read my comments because you are clearly making them more than what they are. I <b> never </b> stated that a woman's right to privacy is illegal. I stated (and I will state again now) that the terminology used in the opinion is not all "legal terminology." I went on to clarify, which is why I suggested you read my comments again. I want to know what further support you want. I have been accused of being long winded on these boards, but if you would like, I can provide specific passages from the text that I do not think have anything to do with legal issues. I think I did support my point satisfactorily, but apparently you do not. Let me know what further information you need.
kittycat8 kittycat8 7 years
Lilkimbo: If you’re going to come on a blog and make outrageous claims like a woman’s substantive right to privacy is “illegal” or that the justices deciding this seminal case wrote the decision poorly or “shoddily” when someone asks you to back up what you’re saying, and you simply refer them back to the text of the decision, I consider that deflection. That is my opinion, which you apparently do not share. That is fine. I don’t need to read Roe again, nor do I need to read any of your comments again. I asked you to prove support for your argument, which you did not do satisfactorily. The bottom line is, of course, that there is no right answer here. I have enjoyed the vigorous debate, however. :)
kittycat8 kittycat8 7 years
Lilkimbo: If you’re going to come on a blog and make outrageous claims like a woman’s substantive right to privacy is “illegal” or that the justices deciding this seminal case wrote the decision poorly or “shoddily” when someone asks you to back up what you’re saying, and you simply refer them back to the text of the decision, I consider that deflection. That is my opinion, which you apparently do not share. That is fine. I don’t need to read Roe again, nor do I need to read any of your comments again. I asked you to prove support for your argument, which you did not do satisfactorily. The bottom line is, of course, that there is no right answer here. I have enjoyed the vigorous debate, however. :)
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Exactly, lovelie. I think the way the opinion is written is "wrong." (for lack of a better word) I am not trying to argue that the conclusion is wrong, but that the way it's written is not right. Hence, you are saying the same thing I am: that it includes a lot of extraneous text that is not pertinent to the case.
lovelie lovelie 7 years
As far as text of Roe v Wade is concerned, the trimester test is no longer the standard generally used. What was really established in Roe v Wade was a women's right to privacy, not a women's right to abortion. The right to have an abortion is the outcome of the right to privacy, hence "medical terminology" cited in the case is really irrelevant to the actual ruling. Anyways, the undue burden test is now the usual standard which was written by Justice O'Connor, which goes again to show that the Court is a reactive and evolving branch of government, they do not make policy, they shape policy.
megnmac megnmac 7 years
I heart the Warren court... I also think the Rehnquist era was interesting, b/c his greatest accomplishments were so not policy driven but legal scholarship issues.. and the addition of judicial fashion choices!
lovelie lovelie 7 years
UnDave35- I think Kittycat8 is refering to judicial activism when she says the justices should be active, in oppose to being judicial restraintive. Judicial activism is generally used to refer to the era of justices who have taken a active role in reformatting policy that is in violation of the Constitution. The Warren Court is a good example of this.
janneth janneth 7 years
Lovelie, this may be the second most impt reason that Mcc must be defeated, the war being the first.
lovelie lovelie 7 years
Of course the justices have their own political agendas...the issue is whether or not they are able to compartmentalize their agendas with their duties. Historically, the Judicial Branch sorts through the most complicated matters involving the Constitution, and though at times it seems like their rulings fall parallel to the agendas of the current government...there have been many times where they do not. Take for example, Roosevelts court-packing plan. This was a mechanism designed to punish the Justices who did not rule in favor of Roosevelt's New Deal policies. More importantly, the Supreme Court has overturned policies that the government has notoriously failed to do...separate but equal (Brown v Board overturned Plessy v Ferguson), abortion rights (Roe v Wade), privacy matters (Lawrence v Texas). I must say, I am very apprehensive to what changes McCain might make to the Supreme Court if he becomes President. It would only take the appointment of 2 or more conservative justices to shake things up. Say...overturning Roe v Wade like conservative republicans have been trying to do since its ruling.
lovelie lovelie 7 years
Of course the justices have their own political agendas...the issue is whether or not they are able to compartmentalize their agendas with their duties. Historically, the Judicial Branch sorts through the most complicated matters involving the Constitution, and though at times it seems like their rulings fall parallel to the agendas of the current government...there have been many times where they do not. Take for example, Roosevelts court-packing plan. This was a mechanism designed to punish the Justices who did not rule in favor of Roosevelt's New Deal policies. More importantly, the Supreme Court has overturned policies that the government has notoriously failed to do...separate but equal (Brown v Board overturned Plessy v Ferguson), abortion rights (Roe v Wade), privacy matters (Lawrence v Texas). I must say, I am very apprehensive to what changes McCain might make to the Supreme Court if he becomes President. It would only take the appointment of 2 or more conservative justices to shake things up. Say...overturning Roe v Wade like conservative republicans have been trying to do since its ruling.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
And I didn't ask a question of you. Again, read more carefully.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
I don't find it illegal, I find it not to be that based in legal wording. I just couldn't really think of the proper wording to express that. I didn't simply deflect, though. I did state that I don't like the fact that it delves into social consequences and medical issues rather than focusing on the law. Read my comment more carefully next time before accusing me of not answering your question.
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