Bench Memos

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Swept Up in the Moment


The Wall Street Journal’s estimable Daniel Henninger attended a day of oral arguments at the Supreme Court, and gives an entertaining account of the experience. He’s surely right to recommend attending the Court’s oral arguments—something I’ve never done myself and would like to—and he’s equally right to disagree with Arlen Specter about the probably deleterious effect of televising the Court’s work. But I think he’s a bit too enchanted by the experience he had at the Court when he concludes the piece by suggesting that the Supreme Court is the one great institution in our separation of powers that hasn’t gone dysfunctional or transformed itself into something other than the Constitution’s framers designed. In fact, a good case can be made that the Court was the first of our institutions to run amok, and that it has consistently been the institution most dangerous to the integrity of the Constitution for over a century. Spending a morning bedazzled by the intellectual firepower of nine pretty smart people working in a dignified setting can cause a certain kind of blindness, it seems.


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