Friedman and Lithwick on the Supreme Court’s Magic Tricks
Some recommended reading for a rainy Monday morning (in Baltimore, that is): Barry Friedman and Dahlia Lithwick have written an insightful piece for Slate entitled “Wach as We Make This Law Disappear: How the Roberts Court disguises its conservatism.” They explore the Court’s various tactics to disguise its ideological bent and maintain the illusion of umpire-like judging. They write:
Under the stewardship of its boyish chief justice, John Roberts, the court has taken the law for a sharp turn to the ideological right, while at the same time masterfully concealing it. Virtually every empirical study confirms this rightward turn. Yet recent public opinion polls indicate Americans continue to see a bench that is, if anything, a wee bit too liberal.
How to explain the justices shoving the law rightward, while everyone thinks it is dead center or too far left? The answer is that Roberts is a brilliant magician. He and his four fellow conservative justices have worked some classic illusionist tricks to distract us from seeing the truth. Roberts is likely the first chief justice to understand that the message matters as much as the outcome. He has played his role with consummate skill, allowing the law to shape-shift before our very eyes, even as he and his fellow conservatives claim that nothing is happening.