Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I'll have what he's having

Does CAP allow Matthew Yglesias to drink while blogging? He explains his lack of commentary on the Supreme Court vacancy because:
I think conventional wisdom overrates the importance of the Supreme Court in American life
Really? So the 5-4 court decision that put Bush in the White House didn't affect American lives? I suspect the soldiers that were wounded or killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as their friends and families, might disagree. I think spending over a trillion dollars on these wars, and another couple trillion dollars on Bush's tax cuts, has affected, and will continue to affect, American lives. If the Supreme Court had allowed the Florida recount in 2000, maybe we could have implemented health care reform by now (without the hyperbolic deficit talk).

If that example is too speculative, consider the issue of abortion. Regardless of one's opinion on the issue of abortion itself, I doubt many people would argue that having a child doesn't affect one's life. In fact, I can't think of many life events that have a bigger impact. Since 1973 (Roe v. Wade), the CDC estimates that around 50 million abortions have been performed in the USA. That's 100 million people who were not forced by the Supreme Court to have children against their will. Sure, a small percentage of these women (and don't forget the men) had multiple abortions, and a small percentage of these would-be mothers and fathers have since died, but that's still nearly one-third of the US population alive today!

I felt a little bad about picking on Yglesias in my previous post--not so this time. Conventional wisdom is right. The Supreme Court very much affects American life. With over-lapping 2-year terms in the House, 4-year terms in the oval office, and 6-year terms in the Senate, bad legislation can be fixed relatively quickly. With lifetime Supreme Court appointments, and a reliance on precedent, bad judicial rulings can linger for lifetimes.

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