Political gridlock across the US federal government has made the country’s supreme court uniquely powerful.

First published: July 2022.

That it currently has an overrepresentation of conservative opinions — appointed by Republican presidents; in fact, three by Donald Trump — and that these judges are unfettered by tenure considerations, means the US cannot, for many decades, remake its highest court nor keep it in check.

So, power in the US — at the hands of its highest court — is now about force. The force of numbers, which is to say a brute majority of ideologically hardline judges on the court.

The three liberal justices currently on the US supreme court made this point in their dissent to the majority ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, which led to the overturning of Roe v Wade.

They wrote:

“So how does that approach prevent the ‘scale of justice’ from ‘waver[ing] with every new judge’s opinion’? It does not. It makes radical change too easy and too fast, based on nothing more than the new views of new judges. The majority has overruled Roe and Casey for one and only one reason: because it has always despised them, and now it has the votes to discard them. The majority thereby substitutes a rule by judges for the rule of law.”

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In Iran, theoretically, one man — the Supreme Leader — exercises complete control for his lifetime. In the US, it is the supreme court, more particularly, the six ideologically hardline majority, that exercise control for their lifetimes.

One might justifiably ask how the slide towards unending control of American life by six ideologically driven, seemingly hardline people for their lifetimes, chimes with a country that calls itself the land of the free.

PMP Magazine


Rashmee Roshan Lall, Journalist by trade & inclination. World affairs columnist.

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