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Checks and Balances

We Are Already Defying The Supreme Court

The idea of disregarding the U.S. Supreme Court—simply ignoring its decisions—has become a flash point. “Americans will not tolerate defiance of the institution and the rule of law,” remarked one conservative law professor, irate about the possibility that President Joe Biden or other political officials might engage in such behavior. Who has defied the Supreme Court in the past? If leading examples include Andrew Jackson the ethnic cleansing populist or George Wallace the Southern segregationist, the answer has to be: no one good.

Should There Be A Supreme Court?

Vested interests create “checks and balances” primarily to make political systems non-responsive to demands for social reform. Historically, therefore, the checks are politically unbalanced in practice. Instead of producing a happy medium, their effect often has been to check the power of the people to assert their interests at the expense of the more powerful. Real reform requires a revolution – often repeated attempts. The Roman Republic suffered five centuries of fighting to redistribute land and cancel debts, all of which failed as the oligarchy’s “checks” imposed deepening economic dependency and imbalance.
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