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Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Coan on the Court

Andrew Coan has this excellent post at Balkinization examining claims that the Supreme Court is changing "too much, too quickly." It is of a piece with his recent article, also excellent, titled "What's the Matter With Dobbs?" Neither the post nor the article require the reader to believe that Dobbs is anything but wrong in various senses of the word. (In his article he notes that he believes the opinion was "wrong, gratuitously cruel, and poorly reasoned in many respects." But he rightly notes that he considers that conclusion "not germane" to the argument he is making in the piece, and rightly notes as well that his reasons for that view are banal--as would be similar arguments for Dobb's rightness. I also tend to think Dobbs is wrong, and my views on the subject are also banal.) But both the post and the article look seriously and critically at the language we use to criticize the Supreme Court and its opinions, note the distinction between criticisms based on moral disagreement and those based on lawlessness or illegitimacy, and remind us of the value of "specifying what, precisely, is wrong with the changes of the past Supreme Court term and those looming on the horizon" and some of the dangers, intellectual and political, of mislabeling or misidentifying one's criticisms. I suppose I would add, specifying precisely, accurately, and candidly. One ought not need to add this--no one thinks Professor Jamal Greene is a fan of Dred Scott or Plessy, but no one I am aware of condemns him for arguing that their anticanonical status does not mean, or even suggest, that they are of "uniquely low quality" in terms of conventional constitutional analysis--but I'm afraid one does need to add it. 

I was not at AALS this year--this year's program listings, on the whole, did not strike me as especially good or imaginative--so I did not see the Constitutional Law Section panel on Dobbs. Just as a headline is not an article, so a description of a panel discussion is not the panel discussion itself. I still feel comfortable suggesting that, if it was beyond imagining that the panel might have included someone defending Dobbs or offering some other, more genuinely heterodox position, it certainly had ample room for a thoughtful, independent interlocutor like Coan.   

Posted by Paul Horwitz on January 11, 2023 at 12:17 PM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink


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