If you’re unhappy with the Supreme Court and you want to see the situation addressed I have two words for you: artificial intelligence.
It’s no secret that public opinion regarding the nation’s highest court is uniformly heading in the same direction as the other two branches of the federal government… downward. The latest news from Gallup in their ongoing series of opinion surveys shows the Supreme Court remaining more popular than Congress (or chlamydia, which enjoys roughly the same level of support as our legislators) but their numbers are sliding. 45% of the nation is still willing to give them at least a tentative thumbs up, but fully half disapprove.
The reasons are as wildly disparate as our population, with those who hated Citizens United thinking that the court is too conservative and the people decrying recent gay marriage and Obamacare rulings finding them too liberal. Invoking Lincoln’s attitude of saying that you can please some of the people some of the time likely isn’t of much comfort to those doing the complaining. So is there a solution? Lindsey Cook writes at length about the problem and manages a decent summary of why Americans are unhappy but offers no cure for the illness. (US News)
The decline of Supreme Court approval follows a larger trend of dissatisfaction with the government. All three branches have been low in terms of Americans’ confidence in them, according to recent Gallup polling. The most unpopular by far, though, has been Congress, with only 8 percent of Americans saying they have either a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the legislative branch.
Confronting Americans’ overwhelming anger at Congress and how the government functions can be a tricky thing for candidates on the debate stages, many of whom have national government experience on their resumes. Again in Gallup polling, Americans cite “dissatisfaction with government” as the most important problem facing Americans today, surpassing other issues like the economy, unemployment, jobs and immigration. (Talking about the Supreme Court is a much safer topic: Only 4 percent of Americans cite “judicial system/courts/laws” as the greatest problem facing the U.S.)
Americans are so fed up in fact, that a plurality says “we need to just start over” because our political system is so broken, according to the Bloomberg Politics poll.
The first solution I tend to hear most often from political activists is that the court will get “better” if we start winning elections and appoint better judges. That sentiment is found among both Democrats and Republicans (though their definition of “better” is wildly different) and I’ve been guilty of it myself. But will a new Republican president really make matters better? I think history has taught us one thing when it comes to appointing judges… human beings are funny creatures. You can never truly know what’s in their hearts, nor can you predict precisely what they will do in any given, specific circumstance. This is particularly true when the circumstance in question doesn’t arise until five, ten or thirty years down the line when their opinions may have evolved over time. You need look no further than Souter, Kennedy and Roberts for examples.
The fact is that you’re going to like the Supreme Court when they rule your way and curse them when they don’t. Our laws are based on the Constitution and the justices are supposed to use that founding document as the first and last word on all legal questions, but let’s be honest… as wonderful as the Constitution is and as amazing as the vision of its authors may have been, it’s a fairly short read. There aren’t a lot of specifics which cover the convoluted questions which continue to arise centuries later. They had nothing to say about money in politics when they drafted the document so we’re left to struggle with the First Amendment and try to fit the question inside of its rather limited, generic language. The word “marriage” doesn’t appear in the constitution. And I’m not even sure if anyone on the planet had invented the phrase “health insurance” in the 1700s.
So we’re left with a situation where fallible human beings, each of whom has to bring their own unique life experiences and opinions to the table, are making monumental decisions on complex topics. It occurs to me that the problem here isn’t the wording of our founding documents or the incompetence of our legislators… it’s that we keep getting people involved. Don’t get me wrong… people are great. (Well, some of them anyway.) But they are just too opinionated and that leaves us with starkly split opinions on major issues where, in a perfect system, everyone would read the law as the law and deliver clear eyed rulings.
That’s why it’s time to replace the Supreme Court justices with nine individually programmed computers with advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs. We’re getting closer every day to true AI, or so the geeks assure us. I’ll grant you that I’m still a bit nervous about handing guns and lasers to AI robots along the lines of Robocop, but surely we could trust them with something as simple as interpreting the law, right? Feed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, ask each of the programs a question as to whether a particular case decision or piece of legislation conforms to those parameters and… Voila! We just take a majority decision among the nine programs and Bob’s your uncle.
What? You don’t like it? Well let’s hear your idea, genius.