'Danger zone': This longtime observer warns Trump-shaped Supreme Court no longer reflects American values

'Danger zone': This longtime observer warns Trump-shaped Supreme Court no longer reflects American values
Amy Coney Barrett before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 6, 2017, CSPAN

A longtime observer of the U.S. Supreme Court wrote a scathing assessment of its current state.

Linda Greenhouse, who reported on the court for 30 years and has written biweekly columns on it for 12 years, argued that Americans deserved better from the newly right-wing court in her last column of the year for the New York Times.

"One might suppose that the supercharged conservative majority might proceed with some caution, if not humility, before projecting its agenda on a wary country that never signed up for it," Greenhouse wrote. "After all, of the six Republican-appointed justices, only three were named by a president who won a majority of the popular vote — Justice Clarence Thomas by George H.W. Bush, and Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Alito by George W. Bush in his second term. And given the small-state, red-state tilt of the Senate, it’s not surprising that the senators whose votes provided the narrow margins for confirming the three Trump-chosen justices represent less than half the country’s population."

"Yet what we see from the court is not humility but, to put it politely, a lack of situational awareness," she added.

The court has given every indication it will overturn Roe v. Wade, which three quarters of Americans currently oppose and majorities have opposed since that ruling went into place, and Greenhouse lamented how these current justices came onto the court and the way they approach their jobs.

"The current term finds the court in a danger zone as a willing — and willful — participant in a war for the soul of the country," Greenhouse wrote. "Last term’s cavalier treatment, in a case from Arizona, of what remains of the Voting Rights Act sent a frightening signal about whether the court can be counted on to protect democracy from the Republican-led assault now taking place before our eyes," Greenhouse wrote. "We now have justices apparently untroubled by process and precedent, let alone appearances: Let’s not forget that two of Donald Trump’s three appointments arrived under debatable circumstances, with Justice Neil Gorsuch taking a seat in 2017 that was Barack Obama’s to fill and Justice Amy Coney Barrett being jammed through to confirmation late in 2020."

She argued that the historical consensus about the court and its relationship to democracy had been disrupted by Mitch McConnell's machinations and Donald Trump's ignorance of political norms.

"[We] perhaps chose not to envision a president with the muscle, the will and the opportunity to place young partisans on the court — in other words, aided by the Constitution’s gift of life tenure, to capture the court for the next generation and freeze in place a legacy the American people never chose," Greenhouse wrote.

"Is this the Supreme Court we deserve?" she concluded. "It is not."

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