There’s a lot at stake in the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings, writes Ross Douthat in the New York Times, because the Supreme Court isn’t just a court. It’s “gradually become a kind of extra legislative body—a nine-person super-Senate graced with the power of the veto.” Before 1954, the court overturned just 77 federal laws; since then, it’s overturned more than 80. "Settling so many vexing controversies with 5-to-4 votes is an awfully poor way to run a republic."
Conservatives have long, and justly, blamed liberals for this shift, but they too turn to the Court to subvert laws they don’t like. We ought to rein in its power by requiring a 6-3 “supermajority” to overturn a law or giving justices 12-year term limits. Doing so would remind us that the Court is “a deeply political institution, as fallible as any other, and answerable, when all is said and done, to us.”