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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > Nov-18 > America’s compromised referee

America’s compromised referee

With Kavanaugh on the bench, the Supreme Court will struggle to retain its authority

As the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation nightmare sinks into American memory, some things will happen very quickly. Donald Trump’s celebratory shouts will fade, and Kavanaugh will quietly settle into his seat on the Supreme Court. The other eight justices, regardless of their personal view of his furious, partisan testimony at a Senate hearing dominated by sexual assault allegations, will give him cover, papering over the cracks to insist that the family is a happy one. Elena Kagan, one of the justices picked by Barack Obama, said that the lone superpower of the court is public acceptance and respect: “All of us need to be aware of that—every single one of us—and to realise how precious the court’s legitimacy is.” The court had to guard its “reputation of being impartial, being neutral and not being simply an extension of a terribly polarising process.” That’s always been the theory, but how feasible is it today?

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect's November issue: Paul Collier explains how major cities in the UK will always be in the shadow of London unless capitalism is overhauled and suggests ways that we might be able to improve the situation in those communities that capitalism has left behind. Meanwhile, Steve Bloomfield asks what is going at the Foreign Office. The once great institution that was a symbol of Britain’s global power now seems to be lost and unable to explains its role. Also, Samira Shackle explores a Pakistani protest movement that is unnerving the country’s military. Elsewhere in the issue: Dahlia Lithwick suggests that the Supreme Court will struggle to retain its authority now that Brett Kavanaugh is on the bench. Philip Ball argues that DNA doesn’t define destiny as he reviews a new book by Robert Plomin. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Simon Heffer debate political correctness.