Later this month, the Supreme Court will rule on President Obama’s health care plan. One side or the other in this politically charged case is bound to be frustrated. But the air of crisis awaiting the court’s decision, the expectation that it will spark a furor, owes less to the case than to an erosion of faith in the court.
This loss of confidence in the institution best-positioned to preserve unity in times of flux is a tragedy with many chapters. It started with the intense politicization of the nominating process, emblemized by the 1987 Robert Bork battle. It fed on the rancor of those who sought to structure the court around one litmus-test issue: abortion.