WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – Is there a new American motto: Nothing we trust?
By a lot of measures, most large institutions in the US have and have for years lacked a lot of trust. Congress? Two big thumbs down. presiding? eh. Americans also have a distrust of big business, unions, public schools, and organized religion. In fact, they themselves have abhorrent views about the working of democracy.
The Supreme Court has been an exception. A branch of government that is not dependent on public opinion enjoys higher public respect than branches traditionally elected by the people. Its upscale reputation, cultivated with excellent care, once served it well.
Now the judges face a reckoning on the audacious leak of a preliminary draft opinion that strikes at the constitutional right to abortion, an episode that has deepened suspicions that the High Court, for all its dignity, is not a matter of politicians. is populated by robbers.
Republican members of Congress are suggesting a sinister leftist conspiracy to derail the outcome of the final decision. Liberals are accusing them of conspiracy by right to shut down judges in their early vote. Amidst all this speculation, no party knows who leaked the draft to Politico and why.
It is clear that the case has created a respectable bubble around the court.
“My faith in the court has been shaken,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, one of the few Republican senators in favor of abortion rights, with alarm. Vice President Kamala Harris accused the judges of a “direct attack on liberties” if they vote as indicated. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., accused Trump-nominated judges of lying to Congress about abortion ideas at his hearing.
Elected officials generally don’t talk about judges that way. But now, it seems, jurists are fair game, with another troop of power players in the Washington Viper Pit.
Conversely, as a fierce legal battle escalated to settle the election near 2000, Democrat Al Gore withdrew his complaints about political stigma on the court when it helped his decision to make Republican George W. Bush president. Expectations crushed.
Gore did not hesitate to “accept the finality of this result”, as much as he said he disagreed with it. The respectable bubble was clear. But that decision came to be seen as the modern starting point in the erosion of trust in the court.
In subsequent years, Democrats blasted filibuster on a front to help populate lower federal courts with as many judges as possible, knowing they were setting a precedent that would cut them in the future. can.
Then Republicans did the same for Supreme Court candidates in the judicial equivalent of nuclear escalation.
And there was Donald Trump. During his presidency, Trump specialized in saying the quiet part out loud by the political class. This included shaping their judiciary into a political animal, made up of Democratic judges or Republican ones.
For judges, who have long locked themselves in the notion that politics is over once they get on the bench, it was a step too far when Trump lashed out at “Obama’s judges” for his Accused of standing in the way and otherwise disparaging judges they didn’t like. ,
Chief Justice John Roberts slammed Trump’s comments in an unusual statement, saying, “We don’t have an Obama judge or a Trump judge, a Bush judge or a Clinton judge.” “We have an extraordinary group of dedicated judges who are doing their level best to ensure equal rights for those who appear before them.”
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Yet people in the United States have, in recent times, become skeptical about judicial independence, with a strong majority of judges keeping their political views out of their decisions, but 1 in 5 did not. that they do an excellent or good job. ,
In 2020, Trump candidate Amy Connie Barrett became the first justice in modern times to win confirmation from a minority party without a single vote. She knows what it looks like.
“My goal today is to assure you that this court does not involve a bunch of partisan hacks,” she told an audience in September in Louisville, Kentucky, at a center named after Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who criticized her rapid was confirmed. Politico said Barrett was one of five judges indicating a vote against Roe v. Wade in the leaked draft.
Reaffirming abortion rights in 1973, Roe v. Wade’s decision was controversial and, in the years that followed, it was not a partisan-driven decision. The vote was 7-2 with five judges in a majority nominated by Republican presidents.
Now, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a liberal in a conservative-majority court, has warned that 50 years of reversal of abortion rights will shatter the idea that American justice is blind to partisanship or party.
“Will this institution escape the stench that it creates in people’s perception that the Constitution and its reading are mere political acts?” She asked in December on the Mississippi abortion case. He said he thought it wouldn’t survive.
out of sight
Except when a crucial decision like this abortion comes up, or when Congress is screening court nominees at its protest hearings, the Supreme Court acts largely out of sight and out of mind. But in New York City, leaks made Sequoia Snyder think about court. Shouldn’t this be just another entity to be trusted?
“When you think about it, the power is not in the hands of the people,” said 22-year-old Snyder. “We don’t vote on that. The Electoral College … the popular vote is ignored. The police are not very regulated, they can do whatever they want to.
“Like every aspect of our society you go to, we don’t really have the power or the voice. So I think it’s crazy that like everything else in the country, nine people have the final say and they never go to their jobs.” Can get lost. It just feels weird.”
In Charleston, 72-year-old retired electrical engineer Denise Westover, outside West Virginia’s only abortion clinic, sat on a lawn chair with an anti-abortion sign. He also sees the strange exploits of the court.
He said of the leak, “One side or the other did this to incite some kind of stench for political purposes.” “We humans do what we do because what we think is a good cause. … What was the reason? It can’t be good because you leaked the privileged information of the Supreme Court.”
lack of trust
In an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll last month, only 18% of American adults said they have a “great deal” of trust in the Supreme Court. About 27% have hardly any faith in it.
The High Court has historically received better ratings than other branches and remains so. In the most recent poll, only 4% have great faith in Congress; 51% have hardly any. And 36% have hardly any confidence in the executive branch.
Nevertheless, the court situation has been deteriorating in recent years. The General Social Survey of 2021 suggested that confidence in the High Court was at one of its lowest points in the past half-century.
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In September, a Gallup poll found that 54% said those surveyed had at least a “reasonable amount” of confidence in court, down from 67% in 2020. Only once in five decades has this confidence fallen below 60%.
The poor ratings of a government couple with serious views of American democracy and disenchantment with the pillars of society are almost everywhere you see them.
Gallup tracks public opinion of 14 major institutions across the spectrum – organized labor, the church, the media, the medical community among them – and finds declining trust in them, shares expressing high confidence ever average 15 more than 36. does not grow above %. years. Only the military and small businesses get a resounding vote of confidence.
Overlaying everything is a feeling that the very foundation of the republic is in peril. In January, 53% said in an Associated Press-NORC poll that democracy is not working well in the US; Only 8% thought it was working very or very well.
This situation stemmed from the 2020 election, in which Trump fought fiercely and futilely to reverse Democrat Joe Biden’s clear White House victory. Trump’s false allegations of election rigging are reverberating across the country as both parties slashed state election laws in response.
In his attempt to cling to power, however, Trump also faced the limits of political influence in the judiciary as he and his campaign brought a battery of legal challenges far and wide in the courts to systematically thwart them. Can go
The “Trump judges” didn’t save him.
Associated Press writer Leah Willingham in Charleston, West Virginia contributed to this report.