Dred Scot v. Stanford, Supreme Court rules slavery is constitutional. Plessy v. Ferguson, Supreme Court rules segregation is constitutional. Today they’ve allowed the government to spy on its own citizens. They’ve outlawed partial birth abortion. They’ve pursued pro-torture policies. The Supreme Court is appointed, not elected. I was never given any say in WHO gets to be a Justice. While the President is only allowed a max of eight years in office, and legislators have to repeatedly struggle for re-election…the justices serve for life and there’s no way for us to remove them from office. …Considering that they’re the ones who get to decide what the constitution means, (Mauburry v. Madison, Judicial Review) don’t you think this seems a bit out of place in the American government? I mean…they tell us what our constitution means, and there’s nobody to check it. Seems tyrannical, primitive, undemocratic, and out of place in an republic government to me.

Of course, if you vote, you do get at least an indirect say in who's on the court. And after all, your say in a good many matters is only indirect.

In any case, if the question is what the Constitution means, there's something unappetizing about having the check be one that's too directly tied to the political realm. Constitutions are supposed to set some things beyond the reach of the ordinary democratic process, not least so as to evade what some call the "tyranny of the majority."

But in any case, it's not as though there are no counterweights. Some have held that Congress has the authority to declare that some matters are simply outside the purview of the Court, though I gather that this is controversial. But if the Court makes a constitution ruling that enough people object to, the Constitution can be amended, and has been many times.

More generally, what strikes me (as someone born elsewhere) is that far from being "primitive," the American system of checks and balances - including checks and balances on the Court itself - is actually both supple and subtle.

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