The Corner

Politics & Policy

Chuck Schumer Is Not Opposed to Overturning Precedent

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer looks on after the Democratic weekly policy lunch on Capitol Hill, June 19, 2018. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

One of the preemptive criticisms I’m seeing leveled against Amy Coney Barrett is that she is “opposed to” the maintenance of precedent. Yesterday, Chuck Schumer suggested that Barrett “disagrees with ‘stare decisis’ — the idea that cases like Roe v. Wade are settled law in the courts — and instead has said she wants ‘space’ for ‘reargument.'” In the Los Angeles Times today David Savage joins this line of attack, complaining that “Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a potential Supreme Court nominee, has defended overturning precedents.” If Barrett is the nominee, expect to see this idea promulgated widely.

This charge is a peculiar one. Everybody is fine with the overturning of precedent — the question, as ever, is which precedents qualify, and on what rationale — and among “everybody” is Chuck Schumer, a man who supports all of the precedent-overturning that was done during the New Deal and by the Warren Court; who was thrilled when the Court overturned Baker v. Nelson; and who presumably does not feel that Brown v. Board of Education was an outrageous usurpation of the standard set in Plessy, or that Korematsu should be preserved in aspic. During his speech to the Democratic Convention in 2016, Bernie Sanders went so far as to promise that, if elected, “Hillary Clinton will nominate justices to the Supreme Court who are prepared to overturn Citizens United.” Far from being horrified, the audience clapped and cheered. The only thing that has changed since then is that the president is now a Republican.

Most Popular

Culture

White Cats and Black Swans

Making a film of Cats is a bold endeavor — it is a musical with no real plot, based on T. S. Eliot’s idea of child-appropriate poems, and old Tom was a strange cat indeed. Casting Idris Elba as the criminal cat Macavity seems almost inevitable — he has always made a great gangster — but I think there was ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Other Case against Reparations

Reparations are an ethical disaster. Proceeding from a doctrine of collective guilt, they are the penalty for slavery and Jim Crow, sins of which few living Americans stand accused. An offense against common sense as well as morality, reparations would take from Bubba and give to Barack, never mind if the former ... Read More
Politics & Policy

May I See Your ID?

Identity is big these days, and probably all days: racial identity, ethnic identity, political identity, etc. Tribalism. It seems to be baked into the human cake. Only the consciously, persistently religious, or spiritual, transcend it, I suppose. (“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor ... Read More
Health Care

The Puzzling Problem of Vaping

San Francisco -- A 29-story office building at 123 Mission Street illustrates the policy puzzles that fester because of these facts: For centuries, tobacco has been a widely used, legal consumer good that does serious and often lethal harm when used as it is intended to be used. And its harmfulness has been a ... Read More