The Supreme Court and Public Opinion

Arthur John Keeffe (r.i.p.) wrote a well-respected monthly column for the American Bar Association Journal from 1952-1983 and was my Constitutional Law professor at the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America in 1966. Professor Keeffe was a delightful mixture of Wilsonian liberalism and Nixonian conservatism and did his best to convince his law students that the U.S. Constitution was a living document that required creative interpretation, even re-interpretation, from time-to time in order to to remain relevant to current issues. With his unforgettable chuckle, he was fond of saying that the US Supreme Court considered public opinion very carefully before deciding important constitutional issues of the day.

Professor Keeffe was right as the U.S. Supreme Court has again recently demonstrated. After deciding Schuette v. BAMN on April 22, 2014 upholding the right of state voters to outlaw affirmative action, the high Court on May 5, 2014  decided in Town of Greece NY v. Galloway that prayers to open town council meetings do not violate the First Amendment prohibition against the establishment of religion. Both of these cases were highly publicized and public opinion was squarely aligned along lines ultimately adopted by the high Court. Both decisions represent the commonsense application of the constitution to current issues, much to my pleasant surprise. John Arthur Keeffe would be pleased.

Good Day!