Aaron TangSep 30, 2023
How Overconfidence Is Destroying the Court--And How We Can Fix It
Yale University Press 2023
Today I talked to Aaron Tang about his new book Supreme Hubris: How Overconfidence Is Destroying the Court--And How We Can Fix It (Yale UP, 2023).
The Supreme Court, once the most respected institution in American government, is now routinely criticized for rendering decisions based on the individual justices' partisan leanings rather than on a faithful reading of the law. For legal scholar Aaron Tang, however, partisanship is not the Court's root problem. Overconfidence is.
Conservative and liberal justices alike have adopted a tone of uncompromising certainty in their ability to solve society's problems with just the right lawyerly arguments. The result is a Court that lurches stridently from one case to the next, delegitimizing opposing views and undermining public confidence in itself.
To restore the Court's legitimacy, Tang proposes a different approach to hard cases: one in which the Court acknowledges the arguments and interests on both sides and rules in the way that will do the least harm possible. Examining a surprising number of popular opinions where the Court has applied this approach--ranging from LGBTQ rights to immigration to juvenile justice--Tang shows how the least harm principle can provide a promising and legally grounded framework for the difficult cases that divide our nation.
William Domnarski is a longtime lawyer who before and during has been a literary guy, with a Ph.D. in English. He's written five books on judges, lawyers, and courts, two with Oxford, one with Illinois, one with Michigan, and one with the American Bar Association.