Monday, July 07, 2003

From a note, with some additions, in reference to Jack Balkin's post on the Supreme Court and majoritarianism (see below)

"I don't know if it was you or someone else who commented on Matthew Yglesias' argument against an intellectually brilliant judiciary, but I would say it's not a problem. Politics does not produce one, it produces a judiciary that follows, - should follow, by fair politics- a popular definition of intellectual seriousness, which not an intellectual's definition. Still, the courts act as an insulator.
There are various levels of political-intellectual aristocracy. Politicians are on one, Judges on another, scholars on another. Many Catholic intellectuals think the future of the church is with Hans Kung. He'll never be Pope. Lincoln was not a great emancipator, but a great politician. Balkin thinks Posner is a good conservative choice for the court but knows he won't be offered the job. Who would ever offer it to Ronald Dworkin?

My theory of rhetoric and politics would state that once it is possible for a good mind to defend articulately and with some grace an idea that was once only the purview of the great, that idea's time has come. Of course the brilliant are impatient, but the great make great mistakes, so I prefer the rule of law both to the rule of philosophers and to that the people alone.

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