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John Cuthber

Independence of SCOTUS - split from Yay!

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/District_of_Columbia_v._Heller

 

"District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects an individual's right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home and within federal enclaves..."

 

SCOTUS disagrees with you.

Excuse my ignorance 'cos I'm from the wrong side of the pond but is the SCOTUS politically independent?

If not then their opinion might be as valid as that of the NRA.

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SCOUTS = Supreme Court of the United States. Each of the nine members of the court has a lifetime appointment. What they decide the constitution says, it says. Well, at least until they change their mind.

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Excuse my ignorance 'cos I'm from the wrong side of the pond but is the SCOTUS politically independent?

If not then their opinion might be as valid as that of the NRA.

 

100% independent.

 

Google the three branches of government that we have here on this side of the pond.

 

Or, read, federal government of the united states

 

It is independent. I understand how that is a foreign concept. I understand how you grew up in a place where Wikipedia says:

 

According to the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty, Parliament may pass any legislation that it wishes

 

UK - Parliamentary Supremacy

 

But, that isn't the case here. There really is an independent branch of government here, that is incredibly more valid than the NRA. Sorry if this displaces certain biases, but it is true. This is a nation of independent laws.

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100% independent.

 

 

It is independent. I understand how that is a foreign concept. I understand how you grew up in a place where Wikipedia says:

Actually, what wiki says is "The Court, which meets in the United States Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., consists of a chief justice and eight associate justices who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate."

So, as political appointees, they are not politically independent.

Perhaps it is just as well that you have a constitution that you worship since you don't realise that your judiciary is not as independent as you think.

 

(BTW, it doesn't matter a damn what our laws say- the decisions are made by juries)

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Actually, what wiki says is "The Court, which meets in the United States Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., consists of a chief justice and eight associate justices who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate."

So, as political appointees, they are not politically independent.

Perhaps it is just as well that you have a constitution that you worship since you don't realise that your judiciary is not as independent as you think.

 

Fair point, but they are appointed for life. They aren't elected and they don't have to worry about being fired. I figure that sets them about as far removed from politics and populism as one can reasonably get.

 

I freely admit that I am a fan of the constitution. I'm glad it's there, and I'm glad there is a high court whose job it is to slash laws that don't conform to it.

 

(BTW, it doesn't matter a damn what our laws say- the decisions are made by juries)

 

I'm sure you're not suggesting jurors shouldn't follow the law.

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How do they get chosen in the first place?

Are they noted for being moderate and inclusive in their ideas?

If they are chosen for following the party line in the first place then it hardly matters that it's a life appointment does it?

Yes, the life appointment matters very much. It means they are independent from outside influences. Following your own conscience and belief system does not mean you are not independent.

 

In addition, it is not unusual for justices who have been selected for their past conservative (or liberal) rulings to begin to vote against the wishes of the party responsible for their appointment.

Edited by zapatos

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"Jurors decide if someone did an illegal thing. They don't decide what should and should not be illegal."

No they decide if someone did something that was wrong.

"The point is that with jury nullification I will have no idea if I'm doing something right now that will eventually find me guilty in a court of law or not because the jury could do whatever they want."

Are you saying that you can't tell right from wrong or that the jury can't?

(Incidentally, you would have to go to court in the first place so the police would also have to think that what you did was wrong.)

 

Actually, whatever you are saying it's drifted a long way from the point of the thread.

 

 

"Yes, the life appointment matters very much. It means they are independent from outside influences. Following your own conscience and belief system does not mean you are not independent."

Being appointed to a position of power by a political group who believe that you will, in general, support the views of that group and in a way that means that you can not get sacked, even if you take an extreme (and possible undemocratic) line means that you are not independent.

It means that you are expected to act as a puppet and if they thought you would act otherwise, they would have chosen someone more likely to toe the line.

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Being appointed to a position of power by a political group who believe that you will, in general, support the views of that group and in a way that means that you can not get sacked, even if you take an extreme (and possible undemocratic) line means that you are not independent.

It means that you are expected to act as a puppet and if they thought you would act otherwise, they would have chosen someone more likely to toe the line.

You have an unusual take on the definition of 'independent'.

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OK, so the incumbent government chooses the judges who agree with its policies.

 

And you say that's a way to get a judiciary that is independent of the government which chose it.

I'm not sure mine is the unusual take.

The judgement under discussion was made by these folks

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_G._Roberts

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Paul_Stevens

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonin_Scalia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Kennedy

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Souter

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Bader_Ginsburg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Breyer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarence_Thomas

and

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Alito

Guess what! most of them were appointed by republicans.

Stevens (D) spoke against it and was joined by Bader Ginsburg (D) ;Brayer (D); and (perhaps surprisingly) Souter ®.

 

Do you really think the decision looks politically independent?

Edited by John Cuthber

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OK, so the incumbent government chooses the judges who agree with its policies.

 

And you say that's a way to get a judiciary that is independent of the government which chose it.

I'm not sure mine is the unusual take.

The judgement under discussion was made by these folks

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_G._Roberts

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Paul_Stevens

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonin_Scalia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Kennedy

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Souter

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Bader_Ginsburg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Breyer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarence_Thomas

and

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Alito

Guess what! most of them were appointed by republicans.

Stevens (D) spoke against it and was joined by Bader Ginsburg (D) ;Brayer (D); and (perhaps surprisingly) Souter ®.

 

Do you really think the decision looks politically independent?

Most may have been nominated by republicans but they were all vetted and confirmed by a bipartisan legislature. It may not be a perfect system but it is one where the vacancies of the judicial branch are filled by a process that involves both of the other branches and once completed insulates them politically from those that put them there.

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!

Moderator Note

This thread was split from Yay Guns! There were some pertinent replies that I was unable to split off to this thread as they also contained responses to the main topic. If you feel something is missing from this discussion - have a read of pages 32-33 of that thread.

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OK, so the incumbent government chooses the judges who agree with its policies.

 

And you say that's a way to get a judiciary that is independent of the government which chose it.

I'm not sure mine is the unusual take.

The judgement under discussion was made by these folks

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_G._Roberts

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Paul_Stevens

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonin_Scalia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Kennedy

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Souter

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Bader_Ginsburg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Breyer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarence_Thomas

and

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Alito

Guess what! most of them were appointed by republicans.

Stevens (D) spoke against it and was joined by Bader Ginsburg (D) ;Brayer (D); and (perhaps surprisingly) Souter ®.

 

Do you really think the decision looks politically independent?

Yes, the decision looks like it was made by nine independent justices.

 

As I said before, following your conscience and belief system does not make you dependent on others. The only thing it makes you dependent upon is your own conscience and belief system.

It is no surprise that Republican appointees will be more likely to vote like many Republicans do. That is why the Republicans selected them. But once the justice has been confirmed, the party that selected them has no more influence on them than anyone else does. The justice is free let his or her view change over time, and vote on issues according to that modified view, without fear of retribution.

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They make an independent ( but largely predictable) decision.

But the fact that it is they who make it (rather than me , for example) is because they are politically appointed.

So, the individuals may be independent, but their decisions are not.

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Off-topic but funny. You know what scotus means in Greek: darkness. (an death in some circumstances). From the word σκότος came the verb σκοτώνω: to kill.

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So, the individuals may be independent, but their decisions are not.

I don't know what you mean by that. Are you saying the decisions are dependent on the conscience and belief system of the justice? Does it matter, as long as the jurist is independent?

Under what circumstances could anyone's decisions on any topic be 'independent'?

Edited by zapatos

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Excuse my ignorance 'cos I'm from the wrong side of the pond but is the SCOTUS politically independent?

If not then their opinion might be as valid as that of the NRA.

That's a non sequitur. The NRA's opinion has no legal bearing because the NRA is not a part of the government. The Supreme Court is a part of the government. The Supreme Court's opinion is the supreme legal bearing in the US.

 

Great Britain has a concept of parliamentary supremacy: The law is what Parliament says it is. The US rejects this notion, as do several other countries. Here, the courts can review the constitutionality of laws passed by legislative bodies. If the Supreme Court says that some law violates the constitution, that law essentially no longer exists. (Technical detail: Laws found to be unconstitutional remain on the books but they cannot be applied in any way.)

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The judges are not, of course, independent of their own personalities, ideologies, and so forth.

 

But they are expected to justify themselves by reason, in public, formally with reference to the Constitution and precedent and so forth, informally as well a large body of philosophical and related writings that found Western intellectual civilization.

 

That's not as low a bar as it sounds, despite the behavior of the current Court.

 

And being influenced by their own leanings and ideologies does not make them politically captive toers of lines: in real life, partisanship and political faction has no such consistency, and a judge deciding according to their reasoning from a deep and well-founded ideology or philosophy will make decisions at odds with the political needs of any given Party or power faction. So will a judge overruling their own inclinations by reasoning from principles according to their assumed obligations and sworn oaths.

 

So the independence of the Court rests ultimately in their learning, profundity, and wisdom, which we have insulated from power and threat and temptation as well we can in order to obtain the maximum benefit.

 

So the Achilles heel in the US system is not the fact that politicians can install judges who "agree with them" on the causes of the day, but the fact that certain political factions and forces gain long term and general benefit from stupidity and shallowness of thought on the Court. No politician can appoint a Justice who will "agree with them" in the details of future political catfights - but if a political faction benefits more than others from meanness,incompetence, and stupidity on the Court, that can be arranged.

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If I wanted to find out what people think about public transport but I only polled a group at a railway station would you describe the outcome as "independent" of my choice of sample?

 

Each of the people would have their own independent beliefs about public transport based on whatever.

However, the group , as a whole, would be biassed in favour (compared to the populous as a whole) because of the way I chose them.

 

The outcome of the SCOTUS is as much a product of it's make-up as it is of the will of the people.

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The outcome of the SCOTUS is as much a product of it's make-up...

Completely agree. This of course doesn't mean that the justices are not independent.

...as it is of the will of the people.

If things are done right, the will of the people has nothing to do with the outcome of the SCOTUS.

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Completely agree. This of course doesn't mean that the justices are not independent.

It means the decision is not politically independent.

So, if SCOTUS's decision is essentially political it is, at best, no more valid than that of another political group like , for example, the democrats or the NRA.

 

Though, actually the whole issue of SCOTUS is irrelevant since this "SCOTUS disagrees with you." is an argument from authority and is,therefore a logical fallacy.

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It means the decision is not politically independent.

It is not politically independent in the same way it is not family life independent, or education independent, or sex independent, or social status independent, or any other aspect of your life independent.

So, if SCOTUS's decision is essentially political...

But it is not essentially political any more than it is essentially family life, or essentially education...

...it is, at best, no more valid than that of another political group like , for example, the democrats or the NRA.

Fortunately it is more valid, and that is why we don't teach creationism in school, or exclude Muslims from our country, or ban flag burning, or have access to automatic weapons, or ban abortions, or change all of the above every time the politics changes.

 

Though, actually the whole issue of SCOTUS is irrelevant since this "SCOTUS disagrees with you." is an argument from authority and is,therefore a logical fallacy.

Did I make that argument?

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So, if SCOTUS's decision is essentially political it is, at best, no more valid than that of another political group like , for example, the democrats or the NRA.

 

Wrong.

 

You guys across the pond are the ones who invented the concept of common law over a thousand years ago. You should learn how your own legal system works. The US learned a lesson from that success and then notched things up a bit. Judges in the US have the power to declare laws unconstitutional. Australia in turn learned a lesson from the US and notched things up even more. The Australian High Court is even more supreme than is the US's Supreme Court. Judicial review is a very important part of American and Australian law.

 

Though, actually the whole issue of SCOTUS is irrelevant since this "SCOTUS disagrees with you." is an argument from authority and is,therefore a logical fallacy.

 

This, too, is wrong. Argument from authority is not always a fallacy. In addition to reading up on common law, I also suggest that you read up on appeal to authority. In particular, when the Supreme Court of the US writes a majority opinion, that opinion is fact, at least until it gets overturned. (And that doesn't happen very often.)

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It means the decision is not politically independent.

So, if SCOTUS's decision is essentially political it is, at best, no

more valid than that of another political group like , for example, the

democrats or the NRA.

You are confusingreason, philosophy, and ideology with politics, and legal determination with political opinion.

 

 

Though, actually the whole issue of SCOTUS is irrelevant since this

"SCOTUS disagrees with you." is an argument from authority and

is,therefore a logical fallacy.

The Supreme Court is not a mere authority, but a partial determiner, of what the Constitution legally means.

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"The Supreme Court is not a mere authority, but a partial determiner, of what the Constitution legally means."

And, to a degree, they make that decision on political grounds so they are not independent.

They come to the viewpoint they were chosen to come to, just like a poll at a railway station.

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