The New York Times editorial board claimed that the Supreme Court has become the “judicial arm of the Republican Party” devoted to achieving “partisan victories” for conservatives.
The board argued on Saturday that the court has destroyed the public’s “trust” in it as an institution, and has “squandered” its own “legitimacy” with allegedly partisan rulings such as the Dobbs decision which overturned Roe v. Wade.
On Friday, the Times also published a guest essay claiming that the conservative-majority court is “is posing a more profound challenge to the American system of self-government than any violent mob has managed.”
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The board began its column by noting that a “majority of Americans don’t see” that the Supreme Court is a fair and legitimate arbiter of the U.S. Constitution any longer, though it mentioned “the court nearly always hews close to where the majority of the American people are.”
The board added, “If it does diverge, it should take care to do so in a way that doesn’t appear partisan. That is the basis of the trust given to the court by the public.”
It reiterated, “And yet as the justices prepare to open a new term on Monday, fewer Americans have confidence in the court than ever before recorded.”
It cited a Gallup poll, saying, “before the court overturned Roe v. Wade with Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, only 25 percent of respondents said they had a high degree of confidence in the institution. That number is down from 50 percent in 2001 — just months after the court’s hugely controversial 5-to-4 ruling in Bush v. Gore.”
The editorial board considered Chief Justice Roberts’ assessment of this phenomenon, which was that the “court’s low public opinion is nothing more than sour grapes by those on the short end of recent rulings.” In September, Roberts stated, “Simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for criticizing the legitimacy of the court.”
However, the board dismissed this claim as “disingenuous,” arguing that this dip in popularity has been caused by the court’s partisan turn.
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It declared, “The actual cause of its historic unpopularity is no secret. Over the past several years, the court has been transformed into a judicial arm of the Republican Party.” Providing a general timeline, it added, “This project was taking shape more quietly for decades, but it shifted into high gear in 2016, when Justice Antonin Scalia died and Senate Republicans refused to let Barack Obama choose his successor.”
According to the board, this strategy has enabled the conservative appointees to the Court to “discard the traditions and processes that have allowed the court to appear fair and nonpartisan.”
It added, “As a result, the court’s legitimacy has been squandered in the service of partisan victories. The Dobbs decision in June, which overturned Roe v. Wade, eliminated American women’s constitutional right to control their own bodies and was a priority of the Republican Party for decades, is only the most glaring example.”
The board continued hammering the Court, saying it has “has unmoored itself from both the Constitution it is sworn to protect and the American people it is privileged to serve.” It then fretted, “This could not be happening at a worse moment. Election deniers in the Republican Party are undermining the integrity of the American electoral system. Right-wing political violence is a present and growing threat.”
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