The Supreme Court has not been much of an issue in this year's election. When it has come up, voters have typically focused their concerns on two issues, abortion and affirmative action. In my view, those issues receive too much attention. Both command broad political support that would dampen any Supreme Court efforts to stop them in their tracks. Still, we should all be concerned about how the court will be shaped by the next president, and how it will respond to the wide array of economic issues it must decide.
Today, the country is mired in a prolonged economic slump that has slowed growth to a crawl, reduced median family income and produced record increases in entitlement programs. Most people think responsibility for this impasse rests primarily with the political branches of government at both the state and federal levels. But that assessment overlooks the Supreme Court's role in facilitating the current malaise.
One reason the court gets little attention for its economic views is that the cases that bring them into focus aren't ones that divide cleanly along liberal or conservative lines. In an earlier era, however, the court had deep divisions about the constitutionality of virtually every major social and economic initiative, and the impact of cases decided in the first half of the 20th century is still being felt.
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