Interview a friend, family member, co-worker, or someone else who is unaffiliated with the political science discipline. Ask them the following questions:
*What is your opinion of the Supreme Court? What shaped this perception?
*How well do you think Supreme Court justices do their job? To what extent do partisan politics influence their rulings?
Summarize this person’s comments and reflect on them. Do you think this person’s opinion reflects that of the majority of Americans? Why or why not? Of all three branches of government, the Supreme Court has a reputation for being insulated from or resistant to party pressures and swings of public opinion. Do you see this reputation eroding today? If so, what impact does that have on American politics and how might citizen’s faith in the Court be restored?
*Note: Reaction posts should be approximately 2 paragraphs in length.
use student reply as a guide to do the discussion
I chose to call my mom and interview her, given she has a background in political science and international affairs. Her opinion of the Supreme Court was mostly impartial and fair. This perception, she said, came from the fact that the Supreme Court is supposed to work based off of the constitution and not impart any party biases into their decisions. While different political partied presidents have appointed judges that they believe express their best interest, my mother found that they still were fair in their decisions and worked based off of the constitution. I think this opinion from my mother is one that is held among the majority of Americans, especially ones with higher education backgrounds. Knowing that the Supreme Court decides on constitutionality rather than party platforms is a key part of knowing how the Supreme Court is supposed to operate, something that my mom reiterated a number of times.
When I asked my mom about how well she believes the justices do their job, she said that they are typically firm but fair in their decisions. She believes that they adhere to their guidelines of deciding constitutionality of cases rather than impart party biases and ideas into their decisions. This is something that I also believe most Americans hold to be true in regard to the Supreme Court and the inner workings of it.
I do not see the reputation of the Supreme Court being insulated from party pressures being eroded. Cases that come through now are modern issues such as gay marriage and immigration, and while there are always party supporters who will not be happy with a decision on one side or the other, the Supreme Court is very good at determining whether laws stand or should be refuted based on how closely they adhere to the constitution and its amendments. New amendments can sometimes arise from these decisions, allowing for the Supreme Court to have a bigger hand in decision making.