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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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