Reply To: In denying Snyder petition, Supreme Court upholds Sixth Circuit ruling

Robin Vander Wall
Robin Vander Wall

I wouldn’t be discouraged by it. The arc of justice still bends rightly. I gave examples from the Civil Rights era to illustrate what has already happened in the fairly recent past where states were unwilling to abide by federal court orders. That is certainly nothing new.

Perhaps the most famous illustration of this tension between a court’s order and a president’s willingness to enforce it came during the “Cherokee Indian cases” of the 1830s, in particular, Worcester v. Georgia (1832), where Justice John Marshall angered President Jackson by insisting that Georgia laws allowing the seizure of Cherokee lands violated federal treaties. Jackson’s response to the Court’s opinion was “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.” Meaning, of course, that the president had no intention to do so.

Our federal courts can generally expect lawful orders to be enforced. But ours is a politically volatile issue that allows–even invites– more grandstanding among the branches and between the federal courts and the states. This is the seminal civil rights struggle of our era, in my estimation. It will require long-term commitment and consistent, unwavering loyalty and support to see it to completion. It is not for the faint of heart or for those who are easily discouraged.