Aside from the sometimes heated rhetoric recently in the Republican presidential race about “dictatorial” judges, there is an ongoing, civil discourse about various ways to ensure that the Supreme Court does not have the last word on the Constitution’s meaning.
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In an awesome display of Digital Age political power, the shuttering of major parts of the Internet in protest on January 18 had an almost instant impact in Congress, stopping in its tracks a strong push to pass new laws to shut down websites suspected of stealing copyrighted movies, music and books.
Because the Constitution makes it so difficult to add an amendment to it, and because there is such a deep disagreement about the role that money is to play in American politics, the chances that an anti-Citizens United amendment will gain enough support to pass remain slim, at best.
While lower courts for years have often recognized a “ministerial exception” to federal, state and local laws against discrimination in the workplace, the Supreme Court itself had never done so. Although bold in some ways, the decision was, in fact, quite cautious.
The dispute between the former government legal officials and the President’s spokesman – a dispute that has now widened well beyond those combatants – is one of those constitutional controversies that remain truly unsettled even 225 years after the founding document was written.