Polarized Court Damages Own Legacy

Analyst not excited to see ‘childish’ panel back in session
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2007 7:07 PM CDT
With the addition of the Supreme Court's newest member, Justice Samuel Alito Jr., top row at right, the high court sits for a new group photograph in this March 3, 2006, file photo, at the Supreme Court...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Despite the chief justice’s declared intentions, the Roberts Court ravages the idea of “rule based on principle,” acting instead like a polarized political body, the New Republic’s Benjamin Wittes argues. Speeches about division's acidic effects aside, John Roberts smirks at precedent even as lefty colleagues on his court, which began its third term today, get hysterical in a heartbeat.

Wittes considers conservatives and liberals alike responsible for “childish and cartoonish ideological divisions.” Last term, the Court was unanimous in only 13 of 73 decisions and split 5-4 in an unprecedented 23 cases. And those who want to believe in “something more elevated” than a politicized judicial system have to wince as justices misappropriate Warren Court masterpieces.