FPL12062 – The Least Dangerous Branch: Has the Supreme Court Become Too Political?
Writing in Federalist No. 78 Alexander Hamilton described the judiciary as the Òleast dangerous branchÓ of government. To some, HamiltonÕs comment might seem either naive or disingenuous as the Supreme Court in recent years has addressed some of the most divisive issues in American politics, such as gun rights, abortion, religion, and gender identity. At the same time, the contentious politics associated with the nomination of new justices draws national attention and millions watch on television as nominees respond to often hostile questions during their confirmation hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee. With HamiltonÕs famous observation as the backdrop, this one-time lecture will examine some of the contemporary issues of national politics considered by the Supreme Court, the politics associated with selecting the justices and the debates about possible reforms to the high court, such as term limits and even whether the number of justices should be increased.