Politics Poll numbers down, justices say they aren’t politicians
Yes, Amy Coney Barrett Promised the Court Isn’t Partisan at a Mitch McConnell Celebration. That’s Not the Only Issue.
Justices have a long history of wanting to speak without having to answer for their words.The court has been so busy being partisan these past few weeks—it functionally ended legal abortion in Texas, reinstated the “Remain in Mexico” policy, and struck down the eviction moratorium—that it should have been hard for any of its members to find the time to give fatuous speeches about being nonpartisan. And yet, listening to Supreme Court justices busily instruct us on how to think about Supreme Court Justices seems to have occupied an outsize amount of judicial time this past summer.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Three Supreme Court justices delivered the same plea in rapid succession in recent days: Don’t view justices as politicians.
The justices have reason to be concerned. Recent polls show a sharp drop in approval of a court now dominated by conservatives.
Opinion: Supreme Court justices have something to prove
Two justices made news in recent weeks by insisting that the law, not politics, determines how the Supreme Court rules. In the court's new term, the nine justices are due to decide whether an increasingly conservative court will stand by the precedent of Roe v. Wade, which is being challenged by state laws that aim to restrict abortion rights.Take President Joe Biden. He has been walking a tightrope, trying to please both the progressives and moderates in his party, hoping Democrats will unite to launch the biggest expansion of social spending in nearly 60 years. He risks disaster if he can't get the two sides to make a deal.
The call by justices, and for the public not to see court decisions as just an extension of partisan politics isn’t new. But the timing of the recent comments is significant, just after a summer in which conservative majorities on the court prevailed over liberal dissents on , and , and at the start of a blockbuster term.
The future ofand expansions of and religious rights already are on the docket. Other contentious cases could be added. The outcome in each could fracture the court along ideological lines, with the court's six conservative justices chosen by Republican presidents prevailing over its three liberals nominated by Democrats.
Supreme Court at crossroads in term with abortion and gun cases
The Supreme Court begins its new term next week at a crossroads and under tremendous political scrutiny, as the expanded conservative majority takes on major cases on abortion and guns that could change American society as well as how the public views the high court’s legitimacy. Those issues will dominate commentary about the Supreme Court […] The post Supreme Court at crossroads in term with abortion and gun cases appeared first on Roll Call.
To some observers, the Supreme Court is facing the most serious threat to its legitimacy since its decision intwo decades ago that split liberals and conservatives and effectively settled the disputed 2000 presidential election in favor of Republican George W. Bush.
“I think we may have come to a turning point. If within a span of a few terms we see sweeping right-side decisions over left-side dissents on every one of the most politically divisive issues of our time — voting, guns, abortion, religion, affirmative action — perception of the court may be permanently altered,” said Irv Gornstein, executive director of Georgetown University’s Supreme Court Institute.
Paul Smith, who has argued before the court in support of LGBTQ and voting rights among other issues, said people are increasingly upset that the ”court is way to the right of the American people on a lot of issues.”
High court could add more contentious cases to busy lineup
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court term that begins next week is already full of contentious cases, including fights over abortion and guns. But the justices still have a lot of blank space on their calendar, with four more months of arguments left to fill. As is typical, hundreds of cases have piled up over the summer awaiting the justices’ review. Before the new term opens Monday the justices are expected to announce some additional cases they'll hear. Monday will be the first time in more than a year and a half the justices have heard cases in person rather than by telephone because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But views of the court have dipped before, then rebounded, from a public that doesn’t pay too much attention to the court’s work and has trouble identifying most of the justices.
Tom Goldstein, the founder of the court-focused SCOTUSblog website who argues frequently before the justices, doubts this time will be any different. He says the court "has built up an enormous font of public respect, no matter what it does.”
Still, Thomas, Breyer and Barrett took aim at the perception of the court as political in recent speeches and interviews.
Breyer, the court’s eldest member at 83 and leader of its diminished liberal wing, has spoken for years about the danger of viewing the court as “junior league politicians.”
But he acknowledged it can be difficult to counter the perception that judges are acting politically, particularly after cases like the one from Texas in which the court by a 5-4 vote refused to block enforcement of the state’s ban on abortions early in pregnancy. The majority was made up of three justices appointed by President Donald Trump and two other conservatives, with the three liberals and Chief Justice John Roberts in dissent.
The nihilism of Neil Gorsuch
Trump’s first Supreme Court appointee’s radical vision to remake America, explained.The case in front of the Supreme Court was Collins v. Yellen (2021), which had at its center the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), an obscure body that oversaw hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of transactions intended to stabilize the housing market after the 2008 recession. The FHFA is led by a single director whom only the president can fire “for cause.” The plaintiffs in Collins v. Yellen argued the president must have unlimited power to fire the agency’s head, citing the Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling in Seila Law LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
“It’s pretty hard to believe when a case like those come along that we’re less divided than you might think,” Breyer said in an interview earlier this month with The Washington Post.
Barrett echoed Breyer's comments soon after.
“My goal today is to convince you that this court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks,” the Trump nominee said in a talk in Louisville, Kentucky, at a center named for Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who was sitting on the stage near the justice.
McConnell engineered Barrett’s swiftand little more than a month after the . Barrett’s confirmation was arguably the most political of any member of the court. She was confirmed on a 52-48 vote, the first in modern times with no support from the minority party.
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McConnell's push to confirm Barrett in the final days before the election stood in contrast to his decision to hold open the seat held by Justice Antonin Scalia when Scalia died months before the election in 2016 and President Barack Obama, a Democrat, sought to name a replacement.
In an appearance a few days after Barrett's, Thomas said the justices themselves were to blame for shifting perceptions of the court by taking on roles that properly belong to elected officials. “The court was thought to be the least dangerous branch and we may have become the most dangerous,” he said at the University of Notre Dame, where Barrett taught law for many years.
Three new polls, all conducted after the court’s Texas abortion vote, have shown sharp drops in approval of the court. Just 40% of Americans approve of the court, according to the latest Gallup poll. That’s among the lowest it’s been since Gallup started asking that question more than 20 years ago. Approval was 49% in July.
The change in the composition of the court and the controversies over Trump’s three nominees have prompted calls from liberal interest groups to expand the court and institute term limits for the justices, who have lifetime tenure under the Constitution.
At the moment, those changes seem unlikely to succeed. But one group, Demand Justice, said this past week that it is planning to spend more than $100,000 on advertising in the coming weeks to promote the idea of court expansion. And a court reform commission established by President Joe Biden is supposed to issue a report by November.
Abortion, guns, religion: Supreme Court returns to a docket full of explosive cases
The Supreme Court begins a new term Oct. 4 that may be one of its most significant in years, with major cases pending on abortion, guns and religion.After a busier-than-expected summer break, when the nation's highest court toppled President Joe Biden's eviction moratorium and let stand for now a Texas ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, the court will once again hear in-person oral arguments and hand down formal opinions as it starts another nine-month term.
Some court-watchers think the efforts of the liberal groups, rather than the court’s actions, are responsible for changing views of the justices.
“I do think there’s a sustained campaign to delegitimize the court that has gotten some traction on the left,” said Roman Martinez, a Washington lawyer who regularly argues before the court.
At one point of another, most of the justices have talked about the importance of the court maintaining its legitimacy and the need for justices to rise above partisanship.
“Every single one of us needs to realize how precious the court’s legitimacy is. You know we don’t have an army. We don’t have any money. The only way we can get people to do what we think they should do is because people respect us,” Justice Elena Kagan said at a Princeton University event around the time of Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
A couple of months later, Roberts spoke up in defense of judicial independence, but he did so to combat criticism of judges from Trump. After Trump described a judge who ruled against him as a biased “Obama judge,” Roberts.
Roberts said: “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”
Supreme Court rejects appeal by D.C. residents for more representation .
The Supreme Court on Monday advised a lower court to reconsider earlier decisions on the border wall and rejected an appeal from Washington, D.C. residents for voting rights in Congress.The high court on Monday directed lower courts to reconsider their previous rulings that froze funding for construction of a wall at the southern border.