How Supreme Court justices’ insularity rendered them 'blind to their own corruption': journalist
In May, an ABC/Langer Research poll showed that only 39 percent of Americans believed that the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings were based primarily on the rule of law rather than politics. And in March, a Marquette Law School poll found that approval of the High Court had fallen to 44 percent. Recent Gallup polls, meanwhile, have found the Court's popularity down to 40 percent — a major drop from 62 percent in 2000.
Public disdain for the Roberts Court is the focus of two articles published on June 5: one by journalist Michael Tomasky for the liberal-leaning The New Republic, the other by University of Baltimore law professor Kimberly Wehle for the conservative website The Bulwark.
The Roberts Court, Tomasky laments, is indifferent to public opinion — and therein lies the problem.
The journalist writes, "Let's call the Supreme Court what it is: an openly corrupt institution whose right-wing members are destroying its reputation because they simply do not care how the broader public sees them. They are, in fact, so blind to their own corruption that they don't even recognize it when they've reached the point of parody…. They believe, in other words, only in ideology."
Tomasky adds, "So, their only real loyalty is to that ideology, not to the Constitution or the law or any particular set of jurisprudential principles."
Tomasky is especially worried about how the High Court will rule in Moore v. Harper, a gerrymandering case in which MAGA Republicans are promoting a far-right legal doctrine known as the independent state legislature theory (ISL). The most radical version of the ISL argues that only a state's legislative branch can determine its election laws — not its executive branch (governors), not its judicial branch (courts and judges).
"In the most extreme outcome," Tomasky warns, "the justices could produce a ruling that would prevent state judges from overruling their legislatures on electoral outcomes. There were signs at the oral arguments that even some of the conservatives were skeptical of those arguments. We'll know soon enough."
Meanwhile, in The Bulwark, Wehle cites the Justice Clarence Thomas/Harlan Crow scandal as a prime example of why the Court is badly in need of "ethics reform." Thomas, according to ProPublica, has been treated to luxury vacations at Crow's expense for more than 20 years.
Crow, according to Wehle, has "refused to comply" with a Senate Judiciary Committee probe of his relationship with Thomas. Crow's attorney, Michael Bopp, told the Committee that "Congress does not have the constitutional power to impose ethics rules and standards on the Supreme Court."
"Bopp's contention that somehow, the Supreme Court is…. so constitutionally sacrosanct that, unlike the lower federal courts, it cannot be impacted by federal legislation is…. historically wrong," the law professor explains. "It also has no support whatsoever in prior case law from any federal court in the country, including the Supreme Court…. Given the sobering separation of powers concerns at stake, Crow's contempt of the U.S. Congress is truly contemptible."
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