; It’s the
branch of government.
; The justices lean
, not left.
; Their decisions affect
Do You Know Who Works Here?
They Can Change Your Life
he late Chief Justice
William H. Rehnquist,
strolling outside the
Supreme Court sev-
eral years ago, was
flagged down by tour-
ists seeking directions
to Georgetown—they had no idea who
His successor, John G. Roberts Jr., is
even less well known. A recent survey
by the Pew Research Center found that
twice as many people knew the host of
this year’s World Cup (South Africa) as
knew Roberts’ name.
The chief justice, at the apex of the
judiciary system, is one of the most
powerful people in the country. Yet
despite this pivotal role in society, the
Supreme Court and the lower courts are
the least-known branch of the federal
government. The Supreme Court, for
example, is regarded by most people as
middle-of-the-road and becoming more
liberal, the Pew survey found, a head-
scratching misperception of a high court
dominated by Republican appointees.
In this cloak of near anonymity, the Su-
preme Court will decide cases in the com-
ing months with real impact on worker
rights, investor protections, health care
and other issues that a;ect the personal
finances and lives of older Americans.
“The Supreme Court is spending more
of its time in recent years on pocket-
book issues that a;ect us all, and to a
greater and greater extent the Roberts
court is tilting away from workers and
retirees,” said Simon Lazarus, public
policy counsel for the National Senior
Citizens Law Center.
A new dynamic this session comes
with new justice Elena Kagan, marking
the first time three women have served
on the court. But she is not likely to
change its ideological bal-
ance. Five of the justices
were appointed by Repub-
lican presidents, four by
Democrats, almost the same
ratio as for all federal judges, according
to the Alliance for Justice, a left-leaning
public interest group.
By John C. Henry
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