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GOHIL DHARMESH
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Do We Have the Supreme Court We Deserve?

Do We Have the Supreme Court We Deserve? lx7ww
When I left the daily Supreme Court beat back in 2008, the Week in Review, as The Times’s Sunday Review section was then called, invited me to offer some reflections on nearly 30 years of writing about the court, its cases and its members. The long essay ran under the headline “2, 691 Decisions, ” a number based on an editor’s calculation of how many decisions the court had issued during my time on the beat. I ended it with an observation about the “vital dialogue” between the court and the country. This was my conclusion: “The court is in Americans’ collective hands. We shape it; it reflects us. At any given time, we may not have the Supreme Court we want. We may not have the court we need. But we have, most likely, the Supreme Court we deserve. ” A friend who recently came upon that article challenged me. “Do you still think we have the Supreme Court we deserve? ” she asked. Actually, sadly, my answer now is no. It’s not that I think the country simply deserves a Supreme Court that happens to agree with me; I was finding plenty to disagree with back in 2008. Justice Samuel Alito had taken Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s place in early 2006, wrenching the closely divided court to the right. In June 2007, Justice Stephen Breyer, during an impassioned oral dissent in a highly charged case on what measures public school systems can take to maintain racial diversity, lamented that “it is not often in the law that so few have so quickly changed so much. ” Nonetheless, Justices John Paul Stevens, Anthony Kennedy and David Souter were still on the bench in 2008, proving every day that to be a Republican-nominated Supreme Court justice was not necessarily to be a handpicked conservative spear-carrier in the country’s culture wars. (The three were chosen by Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush respectively. ) It had not occurred to anyone then that a hostile Senate in 2016 might keep a president’s Supreme Court nomination bottled up for 11 months without even a hearing, nor that a supine Senate would do a subsequent president’s bidding four years later and bludgeon a nomination through to confirmation while millions of Americans were already casting early ballots for president.
When I
left
the daily Supreme
Court
beat back in 2008, the Week in Review, as The Times’s Sunday Review section was then called, invited me to offer
some
reflections on
nearly
30 years of writing about the
court
, its cases and its members. The long essay ran under the headline “2, 691 Decisions,
a number based on an editor’s calculation of how
many
decisions the
court
had issued during my time on the beat. I ended it with an observation about the “vital dialogue” between the
court
and the country. This was my conclusion: “The
court
is in Americans’ collective hands. We shape it; it reflects us. At any
given
time, we may not have the Supreme
Court
we want. We may not have the
court
we need.
But
we have, most likely, the Supreme
Court
we deserve. ” A friend who recently came upon that article challenged me. “Do you
still
think
we have the Supreme
Court
we deserve? ” she asked. Actually,
sadly
, my answer
now
is no. It’s not that I
think
the country
simply
deserves a Supreme
Court
that happens to
agree
with me; I was finding
plenty
to disagree with back in 2008.
Justice
Samuel
Alito
had taken
Justice
Sandra Day O’Connor’s place in early 2006, wrenching the
closely
divided
court
to the right. In June 2007,
Justice
Stephen
Breyer
, during an impassioned oral dissent in a
highly
charged case on what measures public school systems can take to maintain racial diversity, lamented that “it is not
often
in the law that
so
few have
so
quickly
changed
so
much. ” Nonetheless,
Justices
John Paul Stevens, Anthony Kennedy and David
Souter
were
still
on the bench in 2008, proving every day that to be a Republican-nominated Supreme
Court
justice
was not
necessarily
to be a handpicked conservative spear-carrier in the country’s culture wars. (The three
were chosen
by Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush
respectively
.
)
It had not occurred to anyone then that a hostile Senate in 2016 might
keep
a president’s Supreme
Court
nomination bottled up for 11 months without even a hearing, nor that a supine Senate would do a subsequent president’s bidding four years later and bludgeon a nomination through to confirmation while millions of Americans were already casting early ballots for president.
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CC
6.0
LR
5.0
GR
6.5
TA
5.0
OVERALL BAND SCORE
5.5

IELTS letter Do We Have the Supreme Court We Deserve?

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