Lilly Ledbetter v. the Supreme Court

I’ve written several times about Lilly Ledbetter and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.

In yesterday’s New York Times, the excellent Supreme Court reporter, Adam Liptak, wrote an important Sidebar column about this act and about how the Supreme Court has become more powerful because of Congress’s “paralysis:”

Here is the way things are supposed to work. In cases concerning the interpretation of ambiguous federal statues, the justices give their best sense of what the words of the law mean and how they apply in the case before them. If Congress disagrees, all it needs to do is say so in a new law.

As Liptak points out, when Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented in the Supreme Court decision that killed Ledbetter’s lawsuit, she wrote, “Once again…the ball is in Congress’s court.”

But Congress doesn’t take the ball and run with it anymore. A new study by Professor Richard L. Hasen, of the University of California-Irvine, illustrates the “huge transfer of power to the Supreme Court.”

This column is an important, clearly stated reminder of how our legal system is supposed to work, but no longer does. Gives me shivers. Also drives me to the polls to vote but what are we all supposed to do about our fellow American citizens who vote for Congressional paralysis?


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