Is America Necessary? Conservative, Liberal, & Socialist Perspectives of United States Political Institutions

By Henry Etzkowitz; Peter Schwab | Go to book overview

9 The courts
The basic questions this chapter will address are:
1. What interests does the legal system serve?
2. Can justice be obtained through the courts?
3. Can justice be obtained by other means?
4. Should there be a legal system?

Conservatives believe that the judicial system in America is both a legal structure and a political institution. The legal system is exemplified by the Supreme Court which decides cases and controversies arising between individuals, states, and the federal government, and also has the power to set national goals.1 The Supreme Court, as conservatives view it, rules substantially in accord with the will of the majority, and only occasionally defends minority rights. This is the Court's correct role because democracy means majority rule.2 The role of the Supreme Court is not to correct social abuses; these questions should be decided by individuals and local communities.

In general, conservatives maintain that the judicial system should confine itself to the business of deciding legal controversies. The Supreme Court should not attempt to correct all social inequities. It should act strictly in accord with the Constitution. Conservatives believe that the Supreme Court presently acts in accord with the President and Congress and that the basic purpose of the Court is to legitimate presidential decisions and Congressional legislation.

Liberals maintain that there are two problems in the legal system of the United States: (1) The system is set up to serve the rich and not the poor. Since judges are either selected by political parties or the President, or owe their position to the people in power, too often they act in the interest of these "sponsors." Most skilled lawyers work for the very wealthy. Even though a system now provides lawyers for people who cannot afford the going legal rates, these Legal Aid lawyers are overburdened and can seldom give the same attention and expertise to a case as can a lawyer in private practice. (2) The wrong people often become judges or lawyers.3 Many individuals who are just interested in making money and have little social conscience enter the legal profession. They are seldom concerned with the ideals of the law, but rather use the law to serve their own financial interests.

The liberal solution to the defects of the judicial system is quite simple. Judges should be elected by the people rather than selected by politicians. Law schools should include social science and humanities courses in their curricula to enhance the social awareness of law students. Liberals accept the legal structure that exists in the United States. The defects which exist in the legal system can be easily corrected.

Socialists hold that the entire legal system works together with the rich and powerful to maintain the political system. The courts act for whites

-315-

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Is America Necessary? Conservative, Liberal, & Socialist Perspectives of United States Political Institutions
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part One 15
  • 1 - Where Do I Stand? 17
  • Conservative 21
  • Conclusion 28
  • Socialist 44
  • Notes 46
  • Part Two 57
  • 2 - The Presidency 61
  • Conservative 67
  • Socialist 79
  • Notes 85
  • 3 - The Pentagon 101
  • Conservative 107
  • Socialist 117
  • 4 - The Secret Police 133
  • Conservative 139
  • Socialist 152
  • Notes 160
  • Part Three 167
  • 5 - Elite Clubs and Associations 169
  • Conservative 173
  • Notes 184
  • Notes 192
  • 6 - Multinational Corporations 209
  • Conservative 213
  • Socialist 221
  • Notes 244
  • 7 - Organized Crime 257
  • Conservative 259
  • Socialist 264
  • Part Four 283
  • 8 - Congress 285
  • Conservative 289
  • Socialist 296
  • Notes 303
  • 9 - The Courts 315
  • Conservative 319
  • Socialist 330
  • Notes 337
  • 10 - Regulatory Agencies 347
  • Conservative 349
  • Socialist 361
  • Notes 369
  • Political Parties 385
  • Conservative 387
  • Liberal 396
  • Conclusion 410
  • 12 - Academia 413
  • Conservative 416
  • References 427
  • Notes 434
  • Part Five 449
  • 13 - The Media 451
  • Conservative 453
  • Liberal 467
  • Notes 474
  • 14 - Banks 483
  • Conservative The Great Banking Retreat. 485
  • Socialist 489
  • Notes 497
  • 15 - Unions 511
  • Conservative 513
  • Notes 519
  • A Critical Issue 537
  • 16 - The Economic Crisis 539
  • Conservative 542
  • Socialist 544
  • Notes 550
  • Part Seven 557
  • 17 - Political Programs 567
  • Louis Banks. the Mission Of Our Business Society. 568
  • Ralph Nader and Donald Ross. Toward an Initiatory Democracy. 576
  • Stanley Aronowitz. On Organization: A Good Party Is Hard to Find. 581
  • Mass Parties and Reformism 587
  • Notes 596
  • Fred R. Harris. Up With Those Who'Re Down. 602
  • Part Eight 613
  • Appendix 621
  • Note 644
  • Index 649
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