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Michael James Freedman

The Mismeasure of Justice - What a Truly Representative Supreme Court Would Look Like - 2018

The Mismeasure of Justice - What a Truly Representative Supreme Court Would Look Like - 2018

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They say it's non-partisan.

If you listen to the justices, they'll say that it's an intellectual discussion of ideas and language, that decisions aren't political, but rather based on abstract philosophical ideas about the original intent of the framers.

And yet, the Senate sure acts like it's political.

And yet, Mitch McConnell, was willing to break the rules and conventions of the Senate to avoid hearings on a Justice nominated by a Democrat. 

The Supreme Court is currently a picture of minority rule.

I started thinking about what it would look like if you could stand the Justices together, but scale them based on how representative their appointment was. I did the math, and formed an equation which was the average of the popular vote of the president and the percentage of the population that the confirming votes represent. 

And this is a painting of how the power should be allocated.

Stephen Breyer, appointed by a popular president with 97 senators confirming looms over the three Trump appointees who look like kids at the adult table. In this world, you'd get extra credit if your appointment was actually chosen by the majority. 

While this is a conceptual work, it's still moving in its own way.

To make it, I did studies of each of the Justices (Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil M. Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett) so that I could get a sense of what each was like. I listened to all of them speak and watched videos when I could. I really tried to capture a sense of their personalities. When you put it all together, there's a lot to look at, and it somehow fits together.

The actual painting is 20" x 16", gouache on paper. It is available framed with a simple black frame and white mat. The overall size of the framed work is 28" x 24".

I revisited this painting in 2023, here. If you buy both, you save $195.

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