IX
CODA: A REALISTIC BULWARK

If the foregoing analysis of the role of the Supreme Court of the United States in the political process has proved anything at all, it ought to be that there is a recognition of the overriding need for judicial self-restraint. Its acceptance plays an omnipresent and omnipotent part in the attitude of the nine members of the highest court in the United States. No matter how the judicial record of these nine individuals may appear on a chart or graph, no matter how predictable or unpredictable their position on certain issues may be -- a factor that on balance is probably far more of a blessing than a curse -- they are fully aware of their role in, and responsibility to, the democratic body politic which they serve with such dedication. They serve as a collective institution of government; but it is an institution that is characterized more than any other by individual absorption in the tasks at hand, an absorption that calls for more direct personal evaluation and more direct hard work than any other. (The one possible exception is the President of the United States at the instance of casting the die of a decision when he is, indeed, at once the most lonely and the most powerful individual in the free world.) As has been demonstrated throughoust these pages, each member of the Supreme Court normally participates in every stage of the consideration of a case -- from the review stage through the evaluation of briefs through oral argument through discussion and vote in Conference to the writing of or participation in the ultimate opinion of the Court. At every stage of the life of a case the justices are fully aware of their responsibilities as members of the governmental process, and thus practise much procedural as well as substantive judicial self-restraintboth in the type of cases they will hear and in the kind of decisions

-354-

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