Professor John Greabe, in a Consitution Day column published in the New Hampshire Bulletin, explores the elements of sound judicial decision-making, arguing that wisdom "lies in a balance between a commitment to high principle and a responsiveness to the actual challenges of modern life."
Greabe describes a famous painting of the School of Athens that depicts Plato and Aristotle in conversation: "Plato points skyward to emphasize the primacy of abstract principles – found in the Realm of Forms – whereas Aristotle extends the palm of his hand over the ground, emphasizing the need to take account of the particulars of earthly reality."
"I like to think the artist was suggesting that wisdom lies in a balance between a commitment to high principle and a responsiveness to the actual challenges of modern life. Certainly, I believe that both types of considerations should guide the decisions of those empowered to interpret our Constitution – especially the nine individuals with final say about its meaning who sit on the United States Supreme Court.
For those who think that wise judging involves the application of principle as informed by social need and likely consequences, the Supreme Court’s performance over the past couple of decades should be a source of concern."