The Judiciary’s Class War

The Judiciary’s Class War, by Glenn Reynolds. A book just out, built around an interesting observation:

The terms “Front-Row Kids” and “Back-Row Kids,” coined by the photographer Chris Arnade, describe the divide between the educated upper middle class, who are staying ahead in today’s economy, and the less educated working class, who are doing poorly. The differences in education?and the values associated with elite schooling?have produced a divide in America that is on a par with that of race.

The judiciary, requiring a postgraduate degree, is the one branch of government that is reserved for the Front-Row Kids. Correspondingly, since the Warren era, the Supreme Court has basically served as an engine for vindicating Front-Row preferences, from allowing birth control and abortion, to marginalizing religion in the public space, to legislative apportionment and libel law, and beyond. Professor Glenn Reynolds describes this problem in detail and offers some suggestions for making things better.

Commenter David Walser:

The problem isn’t that the judiciary are smart and well educated. The problem is that the federal judiciary are (virtually) all drawn from the same social class of people.

Many of the sons and daughters of the working classes are smart and are, therefore, capable of becoming well educated. However, few will have the opportunity of becoming members of the judiciary because they lack the social connections.

As a consequence, federal judges often make rulings on matters of which they are wholly ignorant — and they cannot get a reality check by asking their peers because, their peers, too, are ignorant of many of the details of the ways many Americans live their daily lives. This isn’t healthy.

Commenter John C. Stephens:

If you’d been paying attention, you’d know that an ongoing theme around here is that credentials are no longer a guarantee of intelligence or competence, merely membership in a particular socio-economic class. Based on performance, there is no reason to believe that members of that class are any better at administering the judicial system than anyone else.