But, he went on, “[the] image of having the members of one branch of government standing up, literally surrounding the Supreme Court, cheering and hollering while the court—according to the requirements of protocol—has to sit their expressionless, I think is very troubling.”
It is troubling indeed. The members of the Supreme Court are not potted plants. They are not supposed to sit there like wax figures while Barack Obama waxes indignant about their rulings.
Most of us can think of Supreme Court rulings that are outrageous. Dred Scott v. Sandford helped to drive this country into civil war. I would include Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casy in that list. The Kelo ruling that allows local governments to condemn your home and give it to private developers is another gross injustice. Liberals surely cannot abide Bush v. Gore, the Court’s 2000 ruling that ended Florida’s endless election recount.
In criticizing the Supreme Court, however, we need to respect the rule of law and think about the time and the place. President Lincoln, in his First Inaugural, disputed the idea that the Supreme Court had the final word on all political issues, but he took care to refer to the Court as “that eminent tribunal.” President Reagan used his State of the Union Addresses to call for constitutional amendments to restore the right to life of the unborn, but he did not directly criticize the Court. FDR, following his landslide re-election in 1936, famously tried to “pack the Court” with six new members. Congress—even a Congress with overwhelming Democratic majorities—defeated him on that one.
I thank and commend Chief Justice Roberts for his brave statements. He represents an equal coordinate branch of our government. I hope that next year, the Chief Justice will join Justices Scalia and Thomas in staying away from the increasingly partisan, increasingly raucous display. Instead of watching the State of the Union Address from a front row seat, the Justices might watch American Idol, instead. Let Mr. Obama’s backers sit in those reserved seats and cheer their own American idol all they want.