Home Politics Abortion law is a proven, trustful distraction from more important topics

Abortion law is a proven, trustful distraction from more important topics

Is the independence of the Supreme Court in question? “Judges should not give in to people who find it difficult to live with decisions they disagree with,” said Chief Justice Clarence Thomas.

The U.S. Supreme Court is under fire. It is true that this is not the first time in its history, but the barrage is now “fierce and directed,” said Thomas. The attacks come mainly from the side of progressive America. This means that there is a right to abortion throughout the United States.

Critics reproach the Supreme Court with ” undemocratic actions due to the predominance of conservative forces. According to her, the Supreme Court “is at war with democracy.”

The independence of the court is at stake. Chief Justice John Roberts, the president of the college, is particularly concerned about this. For years, he has ensured that his court would become a playground in the highly polarized field of forces. As a moderate conservative, he sometimes voted with the Liberals for that reason in recent years. Thus, he wanted to prevent the court from making judgments that would satisfy only a limited part of society.

The Federal Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States. The U.S. Constitution mentions three separate and distinct powers: the legislative (The Congress), the executive (the president), and the judicial. In the latter, the Constitution explicitly mentions the Supreme Court. These three each have their own responsibilities. They control each other and keep each other in balance. This system is known as ”checks and balances.”

For more than two centuries, the image of the Supreme Court has been characterized by integrity and inviolability. Unlike the office-bearers in the other two powers, the judges are appointed for life. They are supposed to be above the parties and not be guided by the political delusion of the day.

The decision-making process at this court takes place behind closed doors. And thanks to the court’s right to review laws against the Constitution, the view is that in sensitive issues, the Supreme Court ultimately has the last word.

For many years, the court had great confidence in the population. That has declined sharply in recent decades. According to Gallup, in 2001, 62% of Americans rated the Supreme Court as the highest court in the country. That is now below 40 percent. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called the decline ” very worrying and dangerous.””

The crumbling confidence in the Supreme Court can be illustrated by the increased polarization around appointment procedures. The candidates nominated by the president must be approved by the Senate. More and more people are voting along party lines. That was often different in the past. For example, in 1986, the moderate conservative Chief Justice Antonin Scalia received the support of 99 out of 100 senators and the also moderate conservative Anthony Kennedy got 97 senators behind him. Three abstained from the vote.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was supported by 96 senators in 1996. Two years earlier, 87 senators were in favor of the appointment of Stephen G. Breyer, the chief justice known as moderate progressive and who will soon retire.

That has become clearly different in the last ten years. The last three chief judges came across the ditch with their heels. In 2017, Gorsuch won 54 senators. A year later, 50 of the 98 senators in attendance supported Brett Kavanaugh. Amy Coney Barrett was nominated in 2020.

Progressive Americans at the time blamed president Donald Trump for nominating “outspoken conservative Chief Justices.” That criticism became even fiercer when, barely two months before the 2020 presidential election, he nominated Amy Coney Barrett in the vacancy created by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In 2016, the Republican majority in the Senate blocked Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland. The argument then was that a departing president could not make a nomination in the year he says goodbye. Recently, a CNN commentator stated that this reproach is very weak. “If the Democrats had had a majority in the Senate at the time, Garland’s nomination would have been a fact.”

“The discussions surrounding the last four appointments have gnawed at the authority of the Supreme Court,” said Richard Hasen, a lawyer and political scientist at the University of California. “The court has thus become the new battlefield in the struggle for American democracy. While the court must be above the parties, it is now part of the Battle of the extremely polarized forces.”

The recent affair surrounding the leaked draft ruling, which may lead to the removal of the legal right to abortion, is widely seen as particularly damaging to the authority of the Supreme Court. President Roberts called the leaks “treason and a unique, flagrant breach of trust in the court.”

If the instigator of evil was out for tumult, he succeeded. Progressives are mobilized. But it is highly questionable whether their protest will have the desired effect. If there were already conservative Chief Justices hesitating, they cannot now make it to the more progressive side. That would undermine their personal authority.

Moreover, if one or two Conservative chief justices now come to a different decision, then that would stimulate another leak on the next delicate issue. The chief judges certainly don’t want that. The result of the leak is that the mutual distrust between the chief judges is fueled. Who had an interest in the leak?

The polarization in American society contributes to the fact that the judges take more partisan positions. “Their political beliefs may begin to overshadow their legal consideration,” says Richard. “They no longer reach each other with arguments; caricatures are created and mutual prejudice grows.”

That also affects the mutual relations. In the past, the conservative Chief Justice Scalia could go to a concert together with his progressive colleague Bader Ginsburg. “That is almost out of the question,” says Hasen.

The Wall Street Journal this week warned of another threat to the Supreme Court’s authority. In a comment, the newspaper denounced the attacks on the court by politicians. In doing so, the commentator pointed out that the current Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, himself set the bad example in 2020. During a demonstration at the Supreme Court building, he warned Chief Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh that they would reap storm if they continued with their “terrible decisions.”

The case does not stand on its own. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, was also fierce in her criticism of the Conservative chief justices this week. A spokesman for the Democratic Party spoke of the “tyranny of arch-conservative Chief Justices.”

The Wall Street Journal also finds it remarkable that president Joe Biden did not distance himself from such criticism of the Supreme Court at the beginning of this week. “What happened to president Biden’s concern about declining public trust in government institutions?”

The situation is critical, but not unique. There have been more frequent times when the Supreme Court went against the prevailing opinion of the public and politics. Most famous example is a 1954 decision, when the chief justices ended the legal right that public schools could refuse black students.

Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus then tried to prevent the arrival of African-American children in a public school by deploying the National Guard. President Eisenhower sent the army to give the black students access to the school in Little Rock. Even then, the popularity of the Supreme Court had fallen to a low. Afterwards, confidence was restored.

That can happen again now. “That is important for the stability of democracy,” says Hasen. In his view, it does not help that progressives want to increase the number of judges by six. “That doesn’t restore confidence. That would only break the current dominance of the Conservatives.”

In addition, such an extension has already been on the table as an option before. In 1937, president Franklin D. Roosevelt also wanted it because he had too much resistance in his economic policies. In the end, he renounced it.

The key, according to Hasen, lies with the chief judges themselves. “It is important that they close the ranks; prevent anything from ever leaking out again and indeed have the courage to make decisions based on purely legal considerations. That’s their job. They must judge laws and decisions as lawyers and not as campaigners.”

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