Readers React: Why a true ‘originalist’ on the Supreme Court shouldn’t vote to overturn any law

The interior of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington.
(J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

To the editor: I have been a member of the Bar of the Supreme Court for many years, and the court’s stature is important to me. The superficial understanding of the Constitution displayed by Ilya Shapiro in his piece calling for power to be shifted away from the federal government concerned me.

The Constitution does not grant the Supreme Court the power to strike down a law, as Shapiro implied. In 1803, in the Marbury vs. Madison opinion, the court arrogated to itself the power to question the constitutionality of parts of laws enacted by Congress, giving rise to a new power of the Supreme Court that has been followed ever since.

Thus, an “originalist,” as Shapiro seems to be, cannot look to the original Constitution as a basis to overturn “general welfare” legislation passed by the New Deal Congress.


Ralph H. Erickson, Malibu

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook.