What is this blog about?

What is this blog about?

I am a political philosopher. My 'political philosophy' is a form of 'liberal egalitarianism.' So in this blog I reflect on various issues in political philosophy and politics (especially Canadian and American politics) from a liberal egalitarian perspective.

If you are curious about what I mean by 'liberal egalitarianism,' my views are strongly influenced by the conception of justice advanced by John Rawls. (So I sometimes refer to myself as a 'Rawlsian,' even though I disagree with Rawls on some matters.)

Astonishingly, I am paid to write and teach moral and political philosophy. I somehow manage to do this despite my akratic nature. Here is my faculty profile.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Inching towards justice: what a more liberal US Supreme Court could accomplish

In an earlier post I explained why I think that US citizens have a moral duty to do whatever they reasonably can to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president. For the vast majority of US citizens, of course, this involves voting for Hillary Clinton.

For the most part, regrettably, I find that the strongest arguments in favour of voting for Clinton to be ‘negative’ in nature. Simply put, whatever her shortcomings (e.g., her record of insipid political ‘third-wayism,’ her hawkish tendencies in foreign policy, etc.), she is worlds better than Donald Trump. So I see this election to be far more about preventing a disastrous Trump presidency than about achieving a Clinton presidency.

But there is one genuinely positive argument for voting for Clinton: namely, the impact that another Democratic president can have on the composition of the US Supreme Court. Given the considerable power wielded by the USSC and the lifetime tenure of the justices – both aspects of the American political system that I find lamentable, but which I recognize are not likely to change anytime soon (if ever) – the prospect that the court might move in a genuinely liberal direction does give me some hope for the future of the country.

If you are curious to know more about the ways in which a more liberal USSC might move the US towards greater freedom and justice for its citizens, I highly recommend reading Dylan Matthews article for Vox, “How the first liberal Supreme Court in a generation could reshape America.”

Here are the article’s main points. A more liberal USSC likely would:

1. End long-term solitary confinement.
2. Reduce mass incarceration.
3. End the death penalty.
4. Restrict/limit the impact of the “Citizens United” decision regarding campaign spending.
5. Expand, or at least better protect, all citizens’ voting rights.
6. Limit the scope for gerrymandering.
7. Better protect the right of women to control their own bodies.

It is also possible that a more liberal USSC would recognize education as a constitutional right.

So all liberal/progressive/left-ish/Berniac US citizens who care about the overall direction of their society have at least one very important reason to vote for Clinton.

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