Democrats should 'undermine' the 'unaccountable' Supreme Court with a vengeance: columnist

Democrats should 'undermine' the 'unaccountable' Supreme Court with a vengeance: columnist

It isn't hard to understand why public approval of the U.S. Supreme Court has sunk to historic lows. Between ProPublica's bombshell reporting on Justice Clarence Thomas' relationship with billionaire GOP megadonor Harlan Crow, the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022, efforts by far-right activist Ginni Thomas (Justice Thomas' wife) to overturn the 2020 presidential elections results, and the fact that three of the justices were appointed by a former president who is now facing a 34-count criminal indictment, the High Court's reputation has suffered enormously in recent years.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and other pro-Donald Trump Republicans have been claiming that the Roberts Court is the target of a ruthless Democratic smear campaign. But liberal New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie doesn't see it that way at all.

In his May 12 column, Bouie argues that Democrats should be going after the High Court much more aggressively.

READ MORE: Here are 6 ways to combat an imperial Supreme Court

"For their part," Bouie writes, "Democrats do not seem eager to attack or undermine the legitimacy of the Supreme Court. Just a handful of Democrats in the House of Representatives called for Justice Thomas' resignation after reports that he accepted lavish trips and gifts from Crow, and Senate Democrats have been careful with the issue. There's been no attempt to subpoena either Justice Thomas or Chief Justice John Roberts — who was politely asked by letter, last month, to come before the Senate Judiciary Committee — and there's no indication that Democrats have the votes to pass anything like a meaningful Supreme Court ethics law."

The columnist continues, "What's more, Democrats still speak as if they hold the Supreme Court in high esteem….. Republicans, in other words, are wrong; Democrats are not out to undermine the Supreme Court. But they should be."

Many Democrats, according to Bouie, revere the High Court as a once-honorable institution that has taken a wrong turn in recent years. Bouie, however, describes the Court as an "unaccountable branch of government" that, throughout much of its history, went out of its way to "protect…. the privileged" rather than "the interests of ordinary Americans." The progressive rulings of the Warren Court during the 1950s and 1960s, Bouie laments, were the exception rather than the rule.

"For the left-of-center of American politics," Bouie says, "the Supreme Court has been — over the course of its long history — more hindrance than help. And to the extent that liberals began to trust the Court as an institution, it's because they made a mistake, confusing the exceptional rulings of the Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren for the norm.… If the Court appeared liberal — or at least friendly to liberalism — in the first decades after the Second World War, it was because of the hegemony of New Deal liberalism over American politics, not because of any inherent quality of the Supreme Court itself."

READ MORE: The Supreme Court is 'determined' to 'defy ethical accountability': journalist

Read Jamelle Bouie's entire New York Times opinion column at this link (subscription required).

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