Pretending is the way to solve things?

This is one of the stupidest ideas I’ve seen in quite some time:

Perhaps it would be more constructive for the court to decide cases by majority vote and issue a single opinion in the name of the court without publishing the votes or opinions of individual justices.

By eliminating dissenting opinions, which are sometimes longer than the majority opinion, the justices could focus more on crafting one clear opinion than on framing contentious responses. Any loss of egocentric exposition or subjective satisfaction caused by ending separate opinions would be more than compensated for by the added force, weight, and dignity unified Supreme Court decisions could command. The focus would be upon the rule of law, not upon judicial personalities.

The problem is that the Supreme Court is no longer seen as unbiased and their favorability ratings are way down. The reason is pretty obvious:

Frequent fractured opinions — especially in controversial and politically charged cases, like election challenges, campaign financing, or strip search practices — create the impression that those decisions may be politically motivated or agenda-driven and do not deserve the same respect and vitality given decisions rendered by greater majorities. They lead to charges of judicial activism and result in increasing partisan intrusion into the judicial process. Too often significant decisions are determined by one swing justice, giving the impression that Supreme Court precedent can be influenced merely by filling a vacancy with the right judge.

If you change ‘create the impression’ to ‘show’  in the above passage (and make other, similar changes) then you see the problems. Most of the Supreme Court justices are now just as partisan as any other politician (and they are now politicians). This editorial does a better job of acknowledging the problem:

Protected by lifetime tenure, many have chosen to enter the political fray rather than insulate themselves from it. Their involvement with politically motivated organizations reflects a shocking lack of concern for the court’s image. All other federal judges are bound by the Judicial Conference’s Code of Conduct, which says they can’t engage in political activity and shouldn’t undermine their impartiality. But as a self-administering branch of the government, the nine justices have exempted themselves. They should reverse course, endorse the Code of Conduct, and forgo politics — for their own integrity, and that of the court.

This is the first of a series of editorials so I won’t pass judgement on it yet, but the article by Joseph Nadeau basically wants to deal with the problem by ignoring it. That won’t solve the problem, because some of the decisions (such as Bush v. Gore and Citizens United) are obviously due to partisan politics. Pretending that they’re not won’t change that.

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