Image Credit: Istockphoto.com
SCOTUS, the Supreme Court of the United States of America, that august body, the ultimate balance of wisdom and knowledge, from time to time totally blows it. With all due respect to jurisprudence, actual jurists’ prudence is at times enough to leave us scratching our heads. If you thought the noble third branch of our federal government is above reproach and has never come to an improper decision, then apparently you have failed to notice that those nine justices are in fact human beings. How they came to these interpretations of constitutional law, we’ll never understand.
5 Bush v. Gore
And finally, we can indirectly thank the Supreme Court for the Iraq War among a host of other things that happened during the first term of the George W. Bush presidency. That’s because in the 2000 case of Bush v. Gore, the court ruled that Florida’s recount of disputed ballots cast in the presidential election was unconstitutional, halting the process and essentially handing the presidency to W. by a margin of five electoral votes.
4 Korematsu v. The United States of America
If you had committed the crime of being a Japanese-American in the early 1940s, the Supreme Court was not your friend. Following wholly logical protests to 1942’s “United States Executive Order 9066,” which dictated that people of Japanese heritage living in certain so-called “military zones” could be rounded up and placed in camps for the duration of the war, a gentleman named Fred Korematsu became the face of the legal battle against idiocy. But it was a time of war, and idiocy won. Victory in the case of Korematsu v. The United States of America Korematsu v. The United States of America went to Uncle Sam, not Fred.
3 “Citizens United”
“Citizens United” is one of the more recent examples of flagrant myopia afflicting The Bench. In this 2010 case, the Supreme Court somehow managed to convince itself that the First Amendment to the Constitution somehow also applies to companies, organizations, and unions. Thus these groups are now allowed to say whatever they want, specifically in regards to politics and elections, unburdened by decades of precedent that limited their ability to effectively purchase influence and drown out the messages of those with smaller treasure chests.
2 Plessy V. Ferguson
The second most backward ruling of the Supreme Court again hinged on the issue of race: In 1896, the outcome of the Plessy V. Ferguson trial paved the way for a half century of “legal” racial segregation. This was thanks to the self-evidently inaccurate doctrine that “separate but equal” was an equitable way to treat human beings. The case was focused on a Louisiana law mandating separate rail cars for blacks and whites. Plessy was a man of mixed race who was under the impression that he should simply be treated like a man. Ferguson was a state judge who disagreed, as did the Supreme Court once the case got to them.
1 Dred Scott vs. Sandford
Dred Scott vs. Sandford takes the cake for the most asinine SCOTUS ruling of all time. The year was 1857, and there was idiocy and extreme bigotry in the air. Under Chief Justice Taney, the court ruled that people of African descent were not regarded as American citizens regardless of free status, and were not protected by the constitution. This craven decision was meant to deflect the issue of slavery back to the states and calm rising tensions, but had the exact opposite effect, leading to ever more heated debate around the country and hastening us into civil war. Fail.