Comments about ‘Richard Davis: Americans losing confidence in Supreme Court’

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Published: Wednesday, June 12 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Salt Lake City, Utah

I have enjoyed Davis' two editorials that I have read so far. It is refreshing to read examined thoughts.

I think the answer is to expose ALL higher court decisions to more scrutiny by the literate public. The problem is that our own local courts seem very eager to invoke gags to stop speech and access to documents regarding their own processes. This may be further tested in this blogging age.

However, since I have been reading more SCOTUS opinions, I have acquired a degree of respect for their analysis, even when I disagree or they seem to miss a key piece of logic.

I have also acquired a measure of respect for our own Utah Supreme Court by regularly reading their opinions. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said regarding my study of the opinions issued by our Court of Appeals.


1857 Dred Scott

Scott, an African-American slave, had asked a United States Circuit Court to award him his freedom because he and his master had resided in a state (Illinois) and a territory (Wisconsin Territory) where slavery had been banned. Chief Justice Roger Taney, writing for the court, held that Scott, as a person of African ancestry, was not a citizen of the United States and therefore had no right to sue in federal court. This holding was contrary to the practice of numerous states at the time, particularly Free states, where free blacks did in fact enjoy the rights of citizens, such as the right to vote and hold public office. In what is sometimes considered mere obiter dictum, the Court went on to hold that Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in federal territories because slaves are personal property and the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution protects property owners against deprivation of their property without due process of law.

Huntsville, UT

Citizens United may be part of the reason for any loss of confidence.

Majority rule is nothing more than mob rule and if it violates the rights of others then it should not be considered in any rulings; just because the majority thinks one way doesn't necessarily make it the right way.

Salt Lake City, UT

Then what is Prof. Davis' solution or alternative? Have judges elected? Require regular voter approval to retain their office? Put issues up for a popular referendum? The Founding Fathers were virtually unanimous in the absolute importance of an independent judiciary. Though it is impossible to be completely objective and unbias, I trust the judges, who are experts on the Constitution, rights and the law, over the whims of the general public with little knowledge and education in those areas. The Court has made very unpopular decisions throughout its history. That alone shows that they rule exclusively on a law's constitutionality instead of popular opinion and have less bias than the general public.

Pheonix, AZ

I also agree with Mountanman. But... I lost faith years in SCOTUS years ago when they ruled on abortion telling us it falls under right to privacy. I suppose what that actually means is... you can dispatch anyone provided you do it in the privacy of your bedroom.

Salt Lake City, UT

"The effort to defund Planned Parenthood was voted down in the Senate by a 58-42 vote. "

Planned Parenthood does things other than abortions. Their funding goes to their other services.

Provo, UT

Who cares? That must be why SCOTUS judges are not elected!

Those Founding Fathers must have known something that Mr. Davis missed.

Cedar Hills, UT

The Supreme court has swung now to an activist court with justices who can only vote a predictable way. Confidence in the court to rule based on the constitution with no political flavoring - no? None. Add to that list other federal govt agencies and institutions including congress, the IRS , the State dept, and on and on... You have corruption as never before and it just so happens to have exploding under guess who.... Barack Obama. No surprise here.

Nashville, TN

@wrz --

"I suppose what that actually means is... you can dispatch anyone provided you do it in the privacy of your bedroom."

It actually means that women have the right to control their own bodies.

If men could get pregnant, abortion would have been legal and universally accepted millenia ago.

I am looking forward to the day of artificial gestators. Then we'll see how many men really want to take care of and raise all those babies that could be saved by technology.

Restrictions on abortion sound a LOT more appealing when you're not the one who has to suffer the consequences.

Danish American
Payson, UT

I have often wondered what the Obama Administration had on Chief Justice John Roberts to blackmail him into the awful decision on ObamaCare. After all, the basis for his opinion wasn't even argued by the Government attorney's. With all the corruption we have seen come out of Obama's Administration the blackmail makes sense.

Springville, Ut


The constitutionality of slavery was never explicitly acknowledged until the Dred Scot decision in 1857. Until that time, it was simply and implicit right. The Dred Scot decision formalized slavery into constitutional law. Clearly, Mr. Davis could not give a more detailed description in an editorial, nor would he be expected to. I understood what he meant as would most people familiar with the history of slavery and the law.


The government has always been able to call whatever they want a tax and thus, be within constitutional bounds to do so. The ACA ruiling didn't pull that one out of a hat. It has been an explicit principle of the Constitution since it was ratified. It is in fact, one of the few explicitly mentioned powers of government. The Court's purpose is to declare a law constitutional if it can be. One of the government's arguments was in fact that the ACA's individual mandate was a tax. It was not their primary argument, but it was argued. The Court acted as it was supposed to be; interpreting the law on its face, not on its popularity.

Everett, 00

Huntsville, UT

Citizens United may be part of the reason for any loss of confidence.

12:57 p.m. June 12, 2013

[Agreed - the worst SCOTUS decision in years!
With upholding Bush's Patriot Act as a neck and neck 2nd,
and Selecting Bush back in 2000 a distant 3rd.]

salt lake city, utah

So Mtm you were ok with Roe v Wade?
7:36 a.m. June 12, 2013

[Voted BEST come back of the day, month, and so far this year! haha]


Citizens United stands front and center as one recent reason people have lost confidence in the Supreme Court.

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations and unions have the same political speech rights as individuals under the First Amendment. It found no compelling government interest for prohibiting corporations and unions from using their general treasury funds to make election-related independent expenditures. Thus, it struck down a federal law banning this practice and also overruled two of its prior decisions. Additionally, in an 8-1 decision, the Court ruled that the disclaimer and disclosure requirements associated with electioneering communications are constitutional.

Perhaps "the most blinkered sentence in the opinion was surely Kennedy’s sonorous prediction that the “appearance of influence or access” by corporations on the political process “will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.”
(Jeffrey Rosen, Politico)

Park City, Ut

the abortion debate going on here is a bit of a non sequitur, and the leaps to try and connect the dots are fraught with logical fallacies (public funding for abortions is illegal since 1970, but Planned Parenthood, the #1 abortion provider receives public funds, therefore abortions MUST paid for by public funds). So drop it, it's not germane to the subject of the article.

James B. Young

Citizens and the DNA cases are far worse than Obamacare or Roe v. Wade to the civil liberties of America.

TN Vet
Columbia, TN

Just because something is legal does not make it right. Slavery was legal at one time.

Try My Best
South Jordan, UT

I have no problem with same sex couples forming unions with all the privilage of marriage. Just coin another word. Marriage is already taken. It is a union of a man and woman.

Pheonix, AZ

"The inscription on the building in the photo says 'Equal Justice Under Law.' Protecting those of the same gender who want to get married seems to fit the description nicely."

If that be the case it should also protect those who prefer myriads of other marriage aberrations such as polygamy, minors, sibs, groups, etc.

Nashville, TN

@wrz --

"If that be the case it should also protect those who prefer myriads of other marriage aberrations such as polygamy, minors, sibs, groups, etc."

It does.

"Equal Protection" means that **everyone's** civil liberties are protected AS LONG AS they don't harm anyone else. This applies to EVERYONE.

Public safety has always been a valid legal reason for limiting personal freedoms.

Polygamy is known to convey serious risks to women and children -- and courts recognize these risks, as I've shown in previous discussions.

Likewise, incest and child marriage harm children.

There is no inequality here. It is the EQUAL application of legal and moral principles -- especially "first do no harm" -- that declare these other forms of marriage to be unacceptable.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

Court cases are not judged on law, but on party affiliation; otherwise we would not have 5/4 decisions. Even the most ignorant among us knows that the most "learned" judges in America should know the law and that they should be able to apply the law. It is impossible to have 5/4 decisions that follow "party lines" unless those judges are incapable of fulfilling their duties. Only a judge who can be bought would "sell" his vote to the political party that appointed him to the bench; but, that is exactly what history has shown has happened.

Why even claim that the Court uses the Constitution as the "steel rule" against which they measure "justice"? Why not just let political parties tell us what "justice" means?

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