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Quentin's Weeknotes 9/1/18-9/7/18

This week:

  • My son started kindergarten. Yikes!
  • I read the amazing Adam Serwer's pessimistic take on what is at stake in the Supreme Court. Serwer has an amazingly broad grasp of US history and politics, and he focuses his attention on the late 19th century Supreme court which he refers to as the Redemption Court. This court did so much damage by allowing or whole-heartedly endorsing the most violent and repressive aspects of Jim Crow segregation. Serwer points out that courts have never been ideologically neutral, but have often been pushed by the mood of the country, though perhaps that is no longer the case:
The Redemption Court was arguably constrained by the broad public consensus among white people of all political stripes that black people were inferior and undeserving of full citizenship, a consensus that hobbled enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 even before it was struck down. The new Roberts Court will pursue its ideological agenda even in the face of majoritarian opposition.
His view of the future is that we are entering a dark time in which an entrenched court will use "the anvil of Judicial Review" to strike down any progressive legislation enacted by the young activists and motivated politicans that seem to be emerging in the base of the democratic party.  I don't dispute the darkness, but I am less convinced of the court's ideological shielding from popular opinion, both because of recent examples that seem to point to holes in the shield and also the long view, taken by Howard Zinn in one of his later published essays that the Supreme Court has almost never been a force for progressive change and we shouldn't fetishize it is some kind of ultimate arbiter. Change comes not from accurate or ideologically neutral interpretation of established law, but from mobilization and power-building.

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