The news this week is comparatively light. Much public attention remains fixed on the results of the election. This week, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor made some comments regarding President-elect Trump. When asked by an interviewer for comments on Trump, she said, “We can’t afford to despair”. She evaded further questions about her opinions.
In the past, Justice Sotomayor has shown somewhat less than the typical restraint of a Supreme Court Justice. This time, she dodged the interviewer’s questions for the most part. But the key phrase there is “for the most part”. Tensions and emotions are still very high after Trump’s election. The nation has seen an uptick in instances of hate crimes. What is the Supreme Court’s job during this time of comparative strife?
The Supreme Court is a check on both the Executive and the Congress. Public commentary does not accomplish this task nearly as well as the Justices remaining distant, and disinterested, in the day-to-day machinations of politics. Justice Sotomayor attended a cultural event and spoke into a microphone during an interview. There is nothing wrong with that. The danger, however, of a Justice commenting directly on the political situation is twofold. One, it removes the members of the Supreme Court from a vaunted position above the political fray. Two, it sets a dangerous precedent at a time when precedents themselves seem to stand on shaky ground.
One thing President-elect Trump has been clear on is the appointment of pro-life Justices to the Supreme Court. This may make things a little easier for anyone participating in Fantasy Justice, our newest prediction competition. Current crowd-sourced data is uncertain about who a President Trump will nominate. Our prognosticators are much more certain about when he may nominate. Most participants are predicting a nomination between the end of February and the end of March.
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