New York Times published an incisive editorial on the current Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. The editorial starts addressing the courts ‘most unsettling tendency’ in it’s judgement in Citizens United VS Federal Election Commission case. The editorial launches it’s criticism of Justice Robert’s court stating that “the Roberts court demonstrated its determination to act aggressively to undo aspects of law it found wanting, no matter the cost”. NYT criticizes the Citizen’s united VS Federal election commission verdict as—” If not quite legislating from the bench, this is not a formula for stability.”
The editorial then launches into an illuminating debate about the weight of ‘precedence’ in judgement and continues the scathing criticism of courts decision regarding campaign finance. The editorial says, ” It was nothing other than judicial activism when the court five months later stepped directly into the gubernatorial race in Arizona, cutting off matching funds to candidates participating in the state’s campaign finance system. The message to other states and cities with similar systems was clear: Watch out. When the Roberts court has a goal in mind, niceties like an actual political campaign cannot be allowed to get in the way”.
The editorial also raises concerns about the new healthcare law if any case concerning this law comes in front of this conservative bench. ” The deference to corporate rights found in Citizens United could also be seen last month. The court made it harder for consumers and workers to challenge the mandatory arbitration clauses found in so many contracts, all designed to keep the fate of corporations out of the hands of judges and juries. When that mindset is combined with the court’s willingness to defy precedent and Congress, it could spell trouble for the national health care law when legal challenges reach the court.”
The editorial raises question and expresses worry about some recent decisions and some future rights cases. ” Still, the problematic decisions continue to leave us worried about upcoming terms, where more decisions about fundamental rights await. In the last month alone, majorities on the court said gun ownership was a fundamental Second Amendment right that applies to states and cities, while reducing the First Amendment rights of those who try to pacify terrorist groups.”
The last verdict although not discussed in detail in this editorial, supports stern punishment ( 15 years jail) for mere advocacy of peaceful dispute resolution with groups designated by state department as terrorist organizations. Justice Breyer in his dissenting opinion suggested that this verdict could “violates the First Amendment guarantee of free speech”.
We can relate the above mentioned editorial and the court decisions in two major Bangladesh related context. First, any such editorial might have been seen as contempt of court in Bangladesh. Recently contempt of court case was filed against detained editor Mahmudur Rahman for publishing some strong remarks made by an ex Chief Justice’s about the Chamber Judge of the Supreme court.
Second, there is a striking difference between the highest court in USA and that of Bangladesh. Any criticism about the US court is solely based on it’s ideological activist verdicts. But ideology is rarely an issue in the highest court of Bangladesh or ideology of that court may be to bend in front of those who controls the big guns in the country.