[RD] Can SCOTUS do its job?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by TheMeInTeam, Feb 23, 2021.

  1. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    It was 6-3, with Trump's appointees notably in the 6 (which is why I made the comment about them earlier).
     
  2. Camikaze

    Camikaze Administrator Administrator

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    We're using 'remedy' in different senses here. I'm specifically talking about a legal remedy, which is a discrete judicial act chosen from the Article III toolbox. You're talking about a 'remedy' in the sense that time travel would be a remedy. It's not within the Court's power to grant. If we assume that a government institution broke the law in this case, then there was a remedy. The petitioners simply failed to succeed in obtaining it before the time in which it could have practical effect ran out.

    Preventing law-breaking in a future election is also a practical consequence in a broad sense, but it would not be of practical consequence in the case which was actually before the Court, in relation to the orders against which the writ of certiorari was sought. It's axiomatic that any declaratory relief could only be granted in relation to the specific case before the Court (in the same way that if A sues B, the court doesn't take the opportunity to making binding pronouncements about the legal relations between C and D). Declarations are about adjudication of what has already occurred (with the effect that the rights of the parties are thereby adjusted or fixed), not prognostication about what might happen in future.

    I think the confusion may stem from the concept of precedent. Courts create precedent, which is then used to guide future behaviour. But precedent is always set within the context of a live case or controversy. Precedent is not the product of the Court hypothesising about a potential future problem.
     
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  3. Yeekim

    Yeekim Moderator Moderator

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    Seems like there is a design flaw in the system then.
     
  4. Samson

    Samson Deity

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    There are many flaws in all systems, but courts can rule on issues that they can make a difference to does not seem the most egregious.
     
  5. Camikaze

    Camikaze Administrator Administrator

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    I suppose it probably stems from the common law's origins within a system of parliamentary sovereignty. The "rule of law" requires that Courts stay within their lane, which is an adjudicative lane rather than an inquisitorial one. While I suppose it is not beyond the capacity of SCOTUS to arrogate to themselves any particular power that they want (only being limited by the legislature's power of impeachment and the potential for the executive to act in equally norm-breaking ways by refusing to enforce the Court's orders), I'm talking about what is within their legitimate Constitutional function.

    Now I, for one, think the fetishisation of the US Constitution is a serious problem, and that the whole thing should be torn down and rebuilt from scratch. But often the obvious difficulty in pursuing that path promotes arguments that the words of the Constitution should either be twisted into a pretzel to achieve the desired result, or should just be ignored.
     
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  6. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    Courts are not supposed to be the government, so where is the flaw?
     
  7. Samson

    Samson Deity

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    But what is the best solution?
    • USA: The founding fathers were inerrant, we must do this for ever
    • France: Have a revolution every few decades and rewrite the constitution while you are at it
    • UK: Not write anything down and just make it up as you go along
     
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  8. Farm Boy

    Farm Boy The long wait

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    Given that the lower(appellate/circuit) federal courts are not specifically laid out in the Constitution, a pissed off enough legislature could presumably refuse to fund any of the activities of those courts, dumping the entire federal case load on the SCOTUS itself, but it'd probably be easier to impeach the justices.
     
  9. Yeekim

    Yeekim Moderator Moderator

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    Well... upon some more reflection, I concede that there is no flaw. SCOTUS could have provided a ruling, had they chosen to do so. They didn't, and it was probably right choice, even though I find Justice Alvito's dissenting opinion well reasoned and logical: the review would indeed add clarity and be greatly beneficial for future elections - similar issue WILL come up agan.
    However, this position ignores that those future benefits probably wouldn't outweigh potential damage that spilling this can of worms could do right now.

    As far as I understand, Trump administration shamelessly sabotaged Postal Service, to prevent as many mailed ballots as possible from getting counted in time.
    In response, Pennsylvanian court overruled a very specific and unambiguous deadline in federal legislation.
    Apparently, SCOTUS does not wish to approve, because it would create a precedent inviting complete anarchy.
    On the other hand, it clearly does not wish to add fuel to claims of "election having been stolen/rigged", when Pennsylvania rather prevented the election from being stolen by underhanded executive.
    Hence, they refused review. Probably the right choice.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2021
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  10. uppi

    uppi Deity

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    In civil law, which has (in theory) no concept of precedent, it makes even less sense to make a judgement in a moot case, because the judgement would apply (again in theory) only to the specific case. Of course, in practice, a decision of a high court is usually a strong signal how a law should be interpreted.

    I think it is a feature of all systems which adhere to the rule of law, that judges are not supposed to make judgements about hypothetical cases. Such things are the domain of laws and supposed to be the responsibility of the legislative.
     
  11. RobAnybody

    RobAnybody Emperor

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    I don't think so. The case that they could is much like the "what if we Impeach George Washington?" question, IMO.

    It can't happen because, to expand on the analogy, there are only 2 outcomes available to Impeachment: 1) removal from office & 2) prevention from holding future office. Dead people (& past 2-term Presidents) can't have either penalty applied to them. So Impeachment is not an option.

    This is like that. If there is no remedy the Court can apply in *this case*, then it cannot consider this case. If there is literally nothing SCOTUS can *do in the present* (meaning they cannot rule on a case "just to set precedent") then in the words of the court: it's moot.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2021
  12. Yeekim

    Yeekim Moderator Moderator

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    There are exceptions for when "mootness" does not apply. One of these is when the case is "capable of repetition". Since elections are recurring events, three justices out of nine would have applied this exception.
     
  13. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    The opposite is true, the whole point is that what the Pennsylvanian court did was illegal per the constitution. SCOTUS blocking things that violate the constitution is its job. Can't change the past, but preventing unconstitutional future acts is still within its duties.
     
  14. The Civs 6

    The Civs 6 King

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    SCOTUS worst branch lmao
     
  15. Yeekim

    Yeekim Moderator Moderator

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    Not illegal until pronounced to be illegal by SCOTUS. And they avoided doing it. My explanation as to why is of course speculative.
     

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