Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Chief Justice Strikes Back: Is he Right?

Chief Justice Roberts, apparently, was not happy by the fact that the President used part of his State of the Union address to express his displeasure with the Court's decision in the Citizens United case. I'm not with the Chief on this one.

As my colleague Neil Siegel has argued, the Chief is in the process of changing a fair amount of the Court's jurisprudence. When the Executive Branch strikes back, as the President did at the State of the Union, the Executive Branch is performing its checks and balances function. The hopeful consequence of this clash between the Executive and the Judiciary is that we will have a healthy debate in this country about both the judicial power and the executive power. What role should courts play in a democratic society and what are the limits of executive power? These are both important questions that we must examine continually. If the Chief does not enjoy being called out during the State of the Union address (and I can't imagine why he would enjoy it), he can, as some of his colleagues have, refuse to attend. Moreover, the beauty of our system, the Chief will get his opportunity to pushback against the Executive. The hope is that our republic will be better for it.