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A Dysfunctional Supreme Court: Remedies and a Comparative Analysis

"The time has surely come for an independent judicial appointments commission to be established ... to take Supreme Court appointments out of the hands of politicians and beyond the reach of the political process..."--John W. Whitehead & John M. Beckett

In "A Dysfunctional Supreme Court: Remedies and a Comparative Analysis," constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead collaborates with British lawyer John M. Beckett to address their concerns with the U.S. Supreme Court and propose solutions as to how the Court could be modernized and made more democratic, particularly in regard to its confirmation procedures.

In the article, which was written for the Fall 2009 issue of the Charleston Law Review, Whitehead and Beckett hone in on a range of problems with the set-up of the Court, and ask what revisions could be made, in part by examining the selection procedures for justices in the United Kingdom, which has recently inaugurated its new Supreme Court.

The article, available here, focuses on six particular areas of concern:

  • The Supreme Court's dwindling docket and the rationale behind its hearing fewer cases today than in the past.
  • Why justices appointed to the Court are not representative of the citizens they purport to serve, and whether a larger Court might be one means of addressing this issue.
  • How justices are appointed to the Court and the weaknesses inherent in such an approach.
  • The Judicial Appointments Commission in the United Kingdom, and whether a similar body could be formed in the U.S. with the aim of being independent of the political process.
  • How a more diverse federal judiciary would be better for everyone.
  • The issue of whether the introduction of term limits and tenure would be a good thing for the Supreme Court.

For more information about the Charleston Law Review, including subscriptions and past issues, please visit


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