Posted Monday, June 30, 2008, at 4:20 PM
Emily , apart from what you think of Chief Justice Roberts, what do you think of the current role of the Supreme Court in American society as a whole?
It seems to me that the Supreme Court today has a smaller role in shaping the public policy agenda of the United States than it has had in recent memory. The court takes very few cases. For the most part, it takes cases only when lower courts disagree on the preexisting state of the law. And its decisions have tended to be really narrow: Even opinions that play out rhetorical battles have tended to have relatively small stakes. The court clearly has a role—no one disagrees with that—and of course there is disagreement as to what that role should be in hotly contested cases. But in general that role is a modest one, and the level of disagreement is small beans.