Monday, July 25, 2005

A Major Problem with the Current Supreme Court

Michael Barone eloquently writes at Powerline about one of my chief annoyances with the Supreme Court right now:

...Try reading the opinions in most important cases today, and you need to set aside several hours and start by making a flow chart of which justices agreed with which sections of the majority (or plurality) opinion and with which sections of the separate dissents or concurring opinions. Supreme Court jurisprudence has become unfollowable even for intelligent, interested citizens. Almost no one goes through this exercise except law professors, law review editors and members of the bar who are paid upward of $500 an hour for doing so.

I could not agree more. I consider myself a pretty educated guy, and I like to read Supreme Court opinions, but when I try to read opinions written in the last ten to fifteen years, it gives me a headache. It seems like there are always at least 2 or 3 concurring opinions and each concurring opinion begins something like this: Concurs with Part I, III, IV; Dissents with Part II, V, VI. Not only does this over-parsing of issues make opinions difficult to read, it also fails to concretely settle constitutional questions that the Court is suppose to be answering.