Toobin and Breyer present two different perspectives on the importance of justices being politicians. Personally, I do not believe that it is important for justices to be politicians. This is because justices adjudicate important national issues and they should not allow their political affiliations to influence their opinions. In addition, politicians are accountable to their voters but there is no mechanism to ensure that judges are directly accountable to voters because they are not voted for but are appointed through a constitutional process. The courts exist to safeguard the interests of the public and ensure that state actions do not infringe on the rights of citizens. An example is the United States v. Lopez case. The United States v. Lopez case limited the power of the Congress. The question that was before the court in this case is whether the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 that banned possession of guns near a school zone was constitutional. The court ruled that this act was unconstitutional because it expanded the power of the Congress to legislate under the Commerce Clause. The precedent set in the Lopez case can help other courts determine cases in instances when the government is considered to be limiting private conduct. This raises the other reason why justices should not be politicians since the ruling of courts may help in promoting government accountability. For example, the Lopez case helps in increasing the threshold for government accountability while implementing and enforcing policies. The National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius shows how the courts work to promote public interest. In this advisory opinion that was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court held that individual mandate to purchase health insurance was constitutional. The majority opinion of the court also held that a challenge to the expansion of Medicaid was not valid. The reason for this is that this would result in unnecessary harassment of states to either accept the proposed expansion of Medicaid or losing the Medicaid funding.
The American court system can be characterized as being partly pluralist and partly elitist. It is partly elitist in the sense that those in power and authority hold sway on some of the policy decisions of the courts. In addition, the wealthy have more access to the justice system when compared to the poor people. While the government has created affirmative action programs to increase access to courts for the poor, there are still factors that limit the poor people from accessing courts. The court system is pluralist in the sense that there are some interest groups that influence the decisions and policy actions of the court. These interest groups are mainly fighting for the rights of the low income and other vulnerable populations in the society.
The Lopez case regulated interstate activities which are noncommercial. This puts to risk some public health statutes, such as Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA) to Commerce Clause challenge. The challenge of these statutes may limit the ability of the government to provide safe drinking water to the population. The lack of provision of safe drinking water may expose vulnerable populations to health complications. This also includes interstate regulation of some diseases and conditions, such as obesity, cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption. The regulations may be at risk of Commerce Clause challenge. The effect of this is that it may reduce the ability of the local, state and federal government from regulating exposure of citizens to burdens of health. This may have the effect of increasing the burdens of disease to some populations in the society.