In his new book, “The Case Against The Supreme Court,” Supreme Court expert Erwin Chemerinsky makes the case that the United States Supreme Court is failing to live up to its historically important role. He gave an enlightening interview to U.S. News [here] wherein he states “what he sees as the court’s failures and suggests improvements to its structure to reverse the pattern of unjust decisions that he believes have already marred its legacy.” Id. Here he describes what he sees as some of the court’s recent failures.
I would point in the race area to the Supreme Court’s decision in June 2013 in Shelby County v. Holder, where the court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This was the first time since the 19th century that the Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional a federal civil rights law. I would point to Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project from 2010, where the Supreme Court said that individuals could be criminally prosecuted for giving truthful [legal advice] to foreign groups that are designated as foreign terrorist organizations. I would point to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which I think is going to have a devastating effect on our political system.
Given that the Supreme Court is likely to deal with issues of abortion, affirmative action, the Affordable Care Act and marriage equality, its role in our lives is enormous. Chermerinsky also sets out ways he thinks the Court could be improved.
It begins with making clear that its preeminent function is to enforce the Constitution, to protect minorities, to make sure that, in times of crisis, we don’t abandon our constitutional values. I recommend merit selection of Supreme Court justices, changes in the confirmation process and term limits for justices. I argue for changing the way in which the Supreme Court communicates with the American people, including by having cameras in the court, and that rules of ethics that apply to other federal judges should apply to the Supreme Court as well.