Why You Can’t Depend on the Supreme Court to Defend Your Rights

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Playground Basketball

“I’m so glad that my security company has got my back while I crash these boards.”

Let us imagine that you are making a contract with, say, a security company. You can’t defend your property all day, especially when you’re out hustlin’ at the playground basketball court, and you might need some help. Because of the division of labor, you are likely to hire people who have more training in security-related tasks (including the application of violence). This is normal. But would you also sign a contract with that company (or any company) if there is a clause that states that in the event of a dispute, a panel that is part of that company will be the arbitrator in settling said dispute? No. That would be dumb. Yet this is what we are led to believe about the ratifiers of the US Constitution: that they had accepted a legal arrangement in which if there is any disagreement about what the legality of what the federal government does, a branch of the federal government (called the Supreme Court) will decide whether or not it is legal. Or rather, that would be the sensible conclusion one would reach if they are to think of the US Constitution as a social contract (though that idea is destroyed by Spooner). But I don’t recall anyone who has argued against state nullification of federal laws make this claim. It seems ironic that some have made the argument that you won’t find “nullification” in the text of the Constitution, since you won’t find “judicial review” either.

But besides my gripes with people allowing the Supreme Court to be the final arbitrator over how we are allowed to live, what I want to talk about today is how ridiculous it is to think that they are somehow a “neutral party.” It seems strange that they would be expected to be impartial when the president they are supposed to keep in check nominates them and the congress that they are supposed to balance approves them. Thus, it should be no mystery as to why the members of that Court come to patently nonsensical rulings.

These are decisions like Gonzales v. Raich (2005) where the Clowns in Gowns decided that growing marijuana for your own use affects interstate commerce. Lest you think it is simply a generational thing, they cite the Wickard v. Filburn (1942), where the Court similarly decided that a farmer growing wheat for his own consumption also affected interstate commerce. (This leaves me to ask: if I scratch my own butt, did I affect interstate commerce by not hiring someone to do it for me?) I’m not pointing to these as the worst of worst examples, but to show how the Supreme Court is willing to manufacture decisions with the purpose of expanding federal power over our lives.

Likewise, between the years of 1937-1995, the era of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and all of the other things that have contributed to the bankrupting of the US government, the Supreme Court declared not one of them unconstitutional.

And, as a final point, their legal procedure requires that you get victimized before you have “legal standing.” A recent example is the Clapper case, involving the issue of whether the US government can listen in on your overseas phone conversations with non-US citizens without a warrant. Downsize DC filed an amicus curiae brief regarding this case. SCOTUS decided that they didn’t have legal standing. Why not? Because they lacked evidence or specific cause for complaint. So, to get the Court to declare that the government can’t spy on you without a warrant, you have to catch them in the act and then bring your case before the Court. Clearly, this is the kind of ruling coming from a group whose purpose is to rubber stamp government power, not to protect the liberties of the people.

I imagine that most defenders of the Supreme Court being the exclusive “interpreter” of the US Constitution, when it comes down to it, don’t actually believe that the system as it currently stands is what the Framers intended. They probably don’t really care, either. Rather, they defend it because they like the decisions it makes (though I wonder if they fully understand how the Court’s incentives are to expand the State).

So, I’d like to leave you with a question: Even if those who go to argue things in front of the Supreme Court gain many successes, do you really want to live under a government that you constantly have to beg and lobby just to leave you alone?

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2 responses »

  1. Pingback: A Case Study on Nullification: Marijuana Laws | Anarcho-Buddy!

  2. “It seems ironic that some have made the argument that you won’t find “nullification” in the text of the Constitution, since you won’t find “judicial review” either.”

    Absolutely correct. This same point dawned on me while I was watching Donald Livingston debate some chump on Nullification; I kept wishing Livingston would have made this point.

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