It’s a slow economic news week. Housing starts and permits are reported tomorrow, and jobless claims and existing home sales on Thursday. I’ll update the Coronavirus Dashboard Wednesday. So for today, two nuggets.
1. Nate Silver discovers behavioral psychology:
This has been my paradigm for months. Panic breeds compliance with mask-wearing and social distancing. Complacency breeds risk-taking. Over time both trends wane, breeding the conditions necessary for the opposite outcome. Not only has this been true in almost all US States, but we have now seen the same dynamic play out in Europe.
Nice to see that Nate Silver is learning about learning.
2. What is the solution to the Supreme Court?
Hoarse is right, although I suspect the Supreme Court will immediately issue injunctions against laws passed by the Democrats, or uphold injunctions issued by lower courts, and won’t wait for 2023 to strike them down.
In the short term, the Democrats can certainly expand the Court. Of course, the GOP will retaliate the next time they are in power. And on we go, destroying the institution (to be fair, the movement conservatives on the Court, after Bush v. Gore and Shelby County, not to mention fast-tracking Trump appeals while slow-walking those of Congressional Democrats, have brought this on themselves.)
The better long term solution, which I have previously endorsed, as have others like Matt Yglesias, is for a single 18-year term on the Court, with appointments made during the 1st and 3rd year of each Presidential term, after which the Justices can become “Senior Justices” who sit on the Appellate Courts for life or until they choose to retire.
Lower courts already have “senior judge” status – but it is *voluntary.* I doubt Clarence Thomas or Samuel Alito will voluntarily retire during a Democratic Presidency. Making it mandatory would require a Constitutional Amendment. Good luck with that.
So the bigger quandary with the solution, as I see it, is how to club the GOP with the short term retaliation for their own misbehavior (see Garland, Merritt) while offering a neutral longer-term solution that they could endorse, and hopefully without the necessity of a Constitutional Amendment.
I have a couple of ideas, but they require a longer post. Once I flesh them out, I’ll have more to say.
You are absolutely right about the 18 year term limit with staggered appointments being the most simple reform to preserve SCOTUS but there is that pesky Constitutional provision. I know you and some House Democrats try to get around it by having the Justices assume “senior status” on the Circuit Courts—there have been SCOTUS members who have done just that voluntarily within my lifetime— but such a law’s constitutionality would be decided by the GOP dominated SCOTUS we have now. I think the only practical response is to make Thomas an offer he can not refuse and replace him with a young black liberal justice—maybe another woman? That would make Roberts the swing vote again and he does not want his legacy to be the last Chief Justice of a 9 person SCOTUS. Not what the left wants but the truth is the left has to win more elections and the liberal justices have to know when to leave. If Biden wins and the Dems get to 50 in the Senate I think Breyer should take senior status. I also think they should make DC and Puerto Rico states forthwith.
Require 2/3 senate majority?