It's come to this

Sean Illing
We have this idea of the Supreme Court as a bulwark against majority tyranny and minority oppression, but that’s not the reality. There have been glaring exceptions, especially in the 1950s and ’60s, but in general the Court has continually defended the powerful against the weak — from slaveholders to segregationists to corporations. Why should the individual citizen feel invested in the Court at this point?

Mark Tushnet
If you look at the overall course of US Supreme Court history, the description that you’ve offered is basically correct. But there are exceptions, as there always are, to that kind of generalization. One is the relatively brief Warren Court era, which still occupies the imagination of many people who think about the Constitution.

We’ve had the Brown v. Board of Education decision and Roe v. Wade, and then, more recently, the Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized same-sex marriage — and all of these decisions were empowering for different segments of the population.

The big question is whether the gains from those kinds of protections of minority interests are substantial enough to outweigh the Court’s interference with legislation on behalf of the most powerful elements of our society. If you’re focused on many recent decisions, like Citizens United, the Court certainly seems to be favoring corporate power, but the picture is less clear when you step back and evaluate it over a much longer period of time.

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