All eyes have turned to the judiciary. It’s the one potential institutional check on Trump—aside, of course, from the shadowy national security state— at the federal level. The courts have the power to stop and strike down laws and actions that violate the law or the Constitution. Recent rulings by a federal district judge in Washington and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals made this clear after they blocked Trump’s Muslim and refugee bans. But the judiciary, despite pretenses to the contrary, is fundamentally political. It can shred civil rights and economic protections as efficiently as it can protect them. Ultimately, major judicial conflicts get decided by the Supreme Court, which has been split 4-4 since Republicans blocked President Obama’s effort to nominate Merrick Garland to take the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat.
Today, Dan Denvir speaks to Jed Purdy about the judiciary and other matters. Purdy is a professor at Duke Law and the author of three books on American political identity including The Meaning of Property. His most recent book is After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene and he has published articles in many, many publications.