Why Is the Supreme Court So Slow?

Why does it take so long to get a decision from the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of President Obama’s healthcare law, or Arizona’s SB 170, or California’s Proposition 8 limiting “gay marriage”?  Currently, those three cases are meandering their way around the lower federal courts.  The Obama administration’s healthcare law is under attack by 20 states in a federal district court in Florida, as well as by Missouri and Virginia in federal district courts in those states.  In time, there will be district-court opinions, then circuit-court opinions, and all of them will get lots of publicity.  But the lower-court opinions mean nothing.  Ultimately, the Supreme Court will have to take them up and decide them.  The issues are simple enough: Can the federal government make you buy something you don’t want to buy?  Can a state try to get people who are there illegally to leave?  Can a state define marriage as something between a man and a woman?

Why do we have to wait years for the Court to speak?

The Framers, in Article III of the Constitution, provide that a state can directly bring an action in the Supreme Court—what the Constitution calls its “original jurisdiction.”  Article III reads, “In all cases [involving ambassadors] . . . and those in which a State shall be a Party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction.” ...

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