This thoughtful, earnest, and perhaps a shade too on-the-one-hand, on-the-other mini-series, escorting us with many a wise talking head from Marbury v. Madison to Dade County’s hanging chads, emphasizes one irony while ignoring another. The main emphasis, hammered home in remarks by Sandra Day O’Connor and John Roberts in hour number four (“The Rehnquist Revolution”), is that the conservative reaction against the judicial activism of the Warren Court, as engineered in bench appointments by Presidents Nixon, Reagan, and Bush I, led directly to a Supreme Court more activist than anything dreamed of by Chief Justice John Marshall—a court that arrogated to itself the power to decide a presidential election in December 2000. The contradictory irony is that, since then, the president has arrogated to his executive self, at the expense of the legislative and judicial branches, all the power his purity of heart desires.
The Supreme Court
Channel 13, Wednesday, January 31 and February 7, 9 P.M.