Readers React: Treating justices like celebrities undermines the Supreme Court’s mission


To the editor: Richard Hasen’s op-ed article is more relevant than ever. Given the raw winner-take-all state of the other two branches of government, we need our judiciary, ultimately the Supreme Court, to counter such toxic partisanship. (“Stop treating Ruth Bader Ginsburg — a.k.a. ‘Notorious R.B.G.’ — like a celebrity,” Opinion, Feb. 15)

To be a celebrity justice means reducing the complexity of decisions to populist partisan positions. Unlike decisions that fell along partisan lines — like the ones expanding political contributions, recognizing the right to same-sex marriage and widening the veto power of religion over our healthcare decisions — we have the example of Brown vs. Board of Education.

Chief Justice Earl Warren made a concerted effort to shape this decision, one vehemently opposed by segregationist justices, so that it was approved by a unanimous court. This took persuasion and compromise, allowing the change to be phased in slowly.


If there is any institution that forges the metaphorical arc of justice, it is these nine very human individuals on whom we depend to transcend their partisan identities in preserving our fragile republic.

Al Rodbell, Encinitas

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