Men in Black

The U.S. Supreme Court is like one of those dinosaur reconstructions at which children gape when they are taken to a museum.  Not only is the Court today an imaginative reconstruction of something that no longer actually exists, it is so huge an institution that few Americans are able to take it in all at once.  From one side—the side of people who respect the old republic of Washington and Jefferson—it is a ravening dragon that has devoured the Constitution; walking around to other sides, however, social conservatives, civil-libertarian leftists, and the proponents of vice and big government see a radiant and benign creature that will save them from the evils of democracy.

There is no need to go into detail: Opponents of abortion, not convinced by Roe v. Wade, still seek redress from the Court that legalized murder; the leftist-“conservative” lawyers at legal think tanks continue to crusade against the tyranny of local government, while the lovers of absolutist bureaucracy, though occasionally foiled by the Court’s Republicans, know that, in the long run, the continued  growth of government at the expense of people is in the hands of the federal judiciary.

In general, the conservatives’ approach to the Court is Sidney Smith’s advice to “trust in God and take short views,” though, in this case, the “god” is the Republican...

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