Overruling Democracy: The Supreme Court vs. the American People

Overruling Democracy: The Supreme Court vs. the American People

Overruling Democracy: The Supreme Court vs. the American People

Overruling Democracy: The Supreme Court vs. the American People


The current five-vote majority on the Supreme Court may be the most divisive, anti-democratic court in American history. No one expects the justices to be a-political, but to say that there is 'no Constitutional right to vote' as they did in Bush v. Gore, is to go against everything America stands for. Overruling Democracy disputes the majority's awful rulings on third parties, race, high schools and corporations.


The trouble…is that we have taken democracy for granted; we have thought and acted as if our forefathers had founded it once and for all We have forgotten that it has to be enacted anew in every generation, in every year and day, in the living relations of person to person in all social forms and institutions.

-John Dewey, Education Today

When you enter the United States Supreme Court, you pass under a motto engraved over the front entrance that reads "Equal Justice Under Law."

It is an attractive promise that the Court holds out to those of us on street level: that parties coming before the Court will be treated fairly and equally without regard to race, ethnicity, wealth, political party, ideology or other arbitrary factors. All that matters inside these marbled walls is the law itself.

This promise evokes what Professor Judith N. Shklar used to call passive justice. All the Court must do to render "equal justice under law" is decide cases and controversies neutrally within the existing scheme of rights, powers, and entitlements. This promise of judicial neutrality under the rule of law is essential. As we shall see, it is also easily broken.

But justice also has another meaning, more dynamic than mere neutrality in adjudication. Active justice appears when we test the existing distribution of power, wealth and rights in society against our sense of justice and morality. Thus, even if the Court fairly resolves conflicts under the current legal regime, profound injustices may still be embedded in the deep structure and functions of society For example, American wealth was built on the slave labor and exploitation of African Americans, but the present legal regime offers no way of articulating, much less quantifying and rectifying, the historical injuries visited on African Americans. To take another

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