Standing Against Media and Sensationalist Interference with the Judiciary

           

Federalist 78 was written by “Publius”, who we commonly recognize as Alexander Hamilton, one of our nation’s greatest founding fathers. A simple phrase from it captures the essence of the framer’s intent with regards to the judiciary. “It may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment.” Furthermore, the Constitution provides safeguards that reflect the intent of the framers to preserve the independence of the judiciary and isolate it from the political sentiment of any given timeframe. Examples of this include the life tenure of the federal judiciary and the justices not being subject to direct voting from the population like an elected representative. Rather, the President must nominate the justice with the advice and consent of the senate and the senate must approve the justice with a simple majority.  

The framers did not want the Supreme Court to be treated like a legislative entity and rubber stamp on societal sentiment. Its role is to strictly interpret the Constitution in order to adjudicate the disputes before it. Recently, the Supreme Court and its justices have been the target of sensationalist journalism specifically with regards to the Dobbs matter that will be decided in June that concerned a proposed Mississippi law that prohibits most abortions following 15 weeks of pregnancy. Much of the pundits in the media have written various headlines claiming the end for Roe is near and that the Supreme Court is opposing women’s rights. Some media power players have even captured commentary from women that have been “proud” to have an abortion. Others have put forth alleged population polling indicating wide-spread support for the continuing legalization of abortion.  

These are just few of many examples of unjustified and sensationalist commentary on the Supreme Court. All of these common points have a faulty premise as they assume that court decisions on abortion are to be democratically decided and if the Court does not side with supposed public sentiment the entire framework of the Court must be destabilized. These forms of behavior and unnerving commentary have been detrimental to our nation. The role of the Constitution is consistently ignored in all of these arguments. Stepping aside from the merits of the case which we have discussed in-depth in prior articles, the concept of pressuring justices on any decision is well outside the intent of the framers and imbalances our intended separation of powers. The judiciary provides a check on legislative and executive action with its adjudication of major disputes invoking Constitutional matters. It is not meant to be a political branch or subservient to media power players, but rather beholden to the Constitution and the Constitution alone. 

Writing and commentary from media talking heads and politicians that approach the appearance of pressure on the judiciary should be challenged. Our country is consistently being filled with distorting narratives that only create confusion and ripe seeds of division while taking advantage of those that are otherwise not learned in civics and the history of the nation. 

We deserve better and should demand better from the leaders and influencers in society. Let the judiciary carry out its judgment authority indepedendent from the “will” and “force” of the media. Is that too Hamiltonian to ask?

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