1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

US Supreme court a court or a political body ?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by otago, Mar 30, 2012.

  1. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2005
    Messages:
    31,662
    Location:
    Scotland
    Well, your problem there is that those terms are only general within the United States. In the UK, for example, we would say that we are a democracy but not a republic, that Cuba is a republic but not a democracy, that France is a democracy and a republic, and that Saudi Arabia is neither a republic nor a democracy. The use of "democracy" and "republic" to denote differing degrees of directness is quite alien to us.
     
  2. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Messages:
    32,610
    Location:
    Moscow
    If by "most people" you mean "most people who could read and had an elementary familiarity with the contemporarily common European intellectual artificial division of 'Roman' and 'Greek' [sic] government", then yes.

    Conveniently, the set of those people is rather similar to the set of the Framers - and orders of magnitude smaller than the set of residents of the United States.

    Doesn't change the fact that the distinction is artificial, anachronistic, and asinine.
     
  3. Farm Boy

    Farm Boy The trees are actually quite lovely.

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2010
    Messages:
    16,460
    They are not general here either. The usage of those terms you describe in the UK is exactly how they are most commonly used in the US. I thought there would be some willingness to dig into the technical. My apologies.
     
  4. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2005
    Messages:
    31,662
    Location:
    Scotland
    I don't really see how your usage is any more "technical" than the one I give? :huh:
     
  5. ParkCungHee

    ParkCungHee Chieftain

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2006
    Messages:
    12,921
    I think that is the first time anyone, ever, has claimed to be more technical then Traitorfish.
     
  6. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2005
    Messages:
    31,662
    Location:
    Scotland
    Well, that really depends on how you define "technical"...










    :mischief:
     
  7. Farm Boy

    Farm Boy The trees are actually quite lovely.

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2010
    Messages:
    16,460
    If you want to talk about the differing structures of democratic government, ie, how responsive those bodies are to direct election, of course the distinctions are relevant. Why and how are courts structured to be "independent?" How is a parliamentary government differently structured from that which exists in the US? The distinctions do have names associated with them if you pick up a textbook on government or political science. If one is musing over the issue of "is the SCOTUS or the US Federal government a democracy?" then a definition of democracy and definitions for degrees of democratic-ness are helpful? Maybe not.

    If that comes off as asinine to anyone we can certainly try and make the language more general. No aggravation intended.
     
  8. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2005
    Messages:
    31,662
    Location:
    Scotland
    I don't really see what any of those questions have to do with a proposed democracy/republic distinction. If anything, they suggest that such a categorical distinction is in practice unworkable.
     
  9. Farm Boy

    Farm Boy The trees are actually quite lovely.

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2010
    Messages:
    16,460
    It seems to me to be on point particularly when musing over the nature of the SCOTUS. It is barely democratic, and certainly is not a democracy. Justices are insulated from public opinion during the selection process through a system of appointment by the president and approval by the senate. Once in, a lifetime term further insulates the court's members from the public. An impeachment process exists but is onerous in application. Overriding the court through constitutional amendment exists, but is difficult and slow.

    If I am not mistaken it was mentioned that the UK parliament, for example, could overrule its high court. I am assuming this is through a process which is easier than amending the US Constitution or impeaching justices to change the rulings. I would not mind being educated on the specifics of this process if anyone is so inclined to spend their time doing so. If my assumption is correct then that is a structural difference between systems that makes the UK court system more responsive than the US's to elected officials. In other words more democratic and less republican.
     
  10. Arwon

    Arwon

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Messages:
    17,284
    Location:
    Canberra
    UK has no constitution
     
  11. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2009
    Messages:
    15,651
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Perfidious Albion
    Please tell me that was ironic.
     
  12. duckstab

    duckstab Child of Noble Family

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Messages:
    1,425
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    I generally agree. I personally think that's too long, unless you're talking about 20 years total on the Federal bench.

    Lifetime appointments might have made sense in an era of low life expectancy, but these days a President who gets to make an appointment to SCOTUS can count on that person being there for a couple decades if they pick somebody in their 50s. If they get to appoint a Chief Justice, that can have even wider-ranging impact.

    I think one way to reduce the politicization of the confirmation process would be to make it more predictable. Every two years, the Chief Justice is forced to retire, the most senior Associate Justice becomes Chief Justice, and the President appoints a new Associate Justice. Barring death or voluntary retirement, every successful appointee serves 18 years and gets a turn to preside over the court, every President is guaranteed a few nominees, and the makeup better reflects contemporary values.
    Obviously, this would require a Constitutional Amendment.

    BTW, the Constitution already gives Congress the power to control the actual size of the Supreme Court, which was the basis of FDR's unsuccessful attempt to pack the court. It'd take a President with a strong Congressional majority and a lot of political capital to burn, but it's theoretically possible to increase the size of the court to negate any current majority.
     
  13. Antilogic

    Antilogic --

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Messages:
    15,602
    How would you characterize the usage of these words in the UK and elsewhere?

    The argument being made is that the terms used to discuss this distinction are "direct democracy" and "indirect democracy", not "democracy" and "republic". Otherwise, yes, it is relevant.

    Well, since the definition of a constitution totally involves writing it down in a single document and not referring to a series of documents, treaties, and common law holdings...

    :mischief:
     
  14. Farm Boy

    Farm Boy The trees are actually quite lovely.

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2010
    Messages:
    16,460
    Call it what you like. I was and remain more interested in the actual topic rather than the semantics. The quoted terms are somewhat less specific but should convey the same generalized meaning.
     
  15. .Shane.

    .Shane. Take it like a voter Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Messages:
    9,233
    Location:
    NorCal
    Yeah, at various times in history the size of the court has been smaller (don't recall if ever larger), but its been at its current size, since... I want to say the late 1800s?

    So, yeah, when people vent about FDR's "court packing scheme" they are showing, usually, that they don't understand history. That said, it was ill-advised because, even while legal, the public saw it for what it was.
     
  16. Antilogic

    Antilogic --

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Messages:
    15,602
    Could you specify which quoted terms you think are less specific, given I presented both sets in quotes?
     
  17. Farm Boy

    Farm Boy The trees are actually quite lovely.

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2010
    Messages:
    16,460
    Nah. Just take your pick and roll with it at this point. :)
     
  18. Antilogic

    Antilogic --

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Messages:
    15,602
    It increased from 6 at founding to 10 (temporarily) during the Civil War, then shrunk back to 7, and finally settled at 9 in 1869.

    Of course, because FDR had four back-to-back terms he was able to appoint 7 justices any way, so the point became moot.

    A'ight, wasn't trying to troll or anything. ;) I'll post on the courts from now on.
     
  19. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2005
    Messages:
    31,662
    Location:
    Scotland
    "Accurate"?
     
  20. Antilogic

    Antilogic --

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Messages:
    15,602
    Let me rephrase the question (and break the rule in my post above, no you did not read that): what working definitions do you use for democracy and republic that were different from what was presented above? The chief executive is not a hereditary monarch in a republic, while in a democracy the chief can be, perhaps?
     

Share This Page