Do Americans lose trust in the Supreme Court?

do-americans-lose-trust-in-the-supremebrcourt

In the 1832 case dubbed Worcester 1832, a case dubbed Worcester. Georgia, the Supreme
Court ruled that the Cherokee Nation constituted a sovereign entity that had rights in its territory,
which can not be overruled by the state government. President Andrew Jackson supported the
confiscation of Native land, and was furious at Chief Justice John Marshall’s decision according
to reports that “Marshall has taken his decision, and now let him apply the ruling.”

The exact words Jackson used to describe his response are likely to be apocryphal however it
is a good representation of the administration’s response. State authorities continued and
intensified practices of ethnic cleansing endorsed through Jackson along with the government of
the United States, shoving those Cherokee as well as other tribal groups from their land in
blatant defiance of Worcester Ruling.

Worcester case highlights one of the most important aspects of the Supreme Court: It only has
authority insofar as the public believes it has. In terms of constitutional law, it is not a
constitutional court. The Court has no power over the president or Congress. It cannot send
troops to war or stop funding for a particular program. It may order other institutions to act
however these orders will only have force if other branches of government and state
governments feel they must adhere to these orders. The Court’s authority rests on its legitimacy

and its legitimacy by a widespread conviction amongst both the public and politicians that
following its instructions is the proper and necessary decision to make.

This legitimacy has gradually diminished in recent years. The unprecedented denial of President
Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in 2016 and the tense battle over Brett
Kavanaugh’s nomination, the GOP‘s blatant disregard for Garland’s precedent in 2020, the
GOP’s brazen disregard of Garland ruling in 2020 when it decided to nominate Amy Coney
Barrett after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s demise and the more radical conservative inclination
of Court rulings have come together to sever the notion of it is the Court is somehow superior to
the political sphere. This has led to the majority of Americans being in favor of radical reforms to
the Court The majority of voters are in favor of limiting the length of their term for justices, while
a 45 percent majority favors packing or expanding the Court.

Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion, which would rule against Roe V. Wade, If it is issued, could
be another major attack on Court credibility. The issue isn’t only that the majority of Americans
are opposed to the decision, though they are likely to. The process that was the basis for this
decision has been repeatedly exposed by that the Court as a vehicle to be used for political gain
through various means.

In that light, an aversion to the most controversial recent Supreme Court ruling — which set a
50-year precedent that has an enduring majority of backing is likely to be felt different than the
previous controversial Court decisions. The consequences could be devastating and
long-lasting, and even more so than political decisions such as Bush and Gore. Gore.

While it’s tempting to celebrate the loss of the Court’s credibility considering its history, it is
important to note that the Worcester instance ought to give us pause. Within the American
system in the United States, for better or worse it is the Court that is supposed to act as the
ultimate arbiter in political disputes. If it’s not legitimate enough to perform this function and is
not able to do so, it could set the conditions for a constitutional emergency, particularly when
former president Donald Trump runs again in 2024.

What if the Court were to overturn Roe will affect the legitimacy of the Court?

Political scientists who research the factors that determine Court legitimacy generally conclude
that it comes from the belief of Courts are not political bodies. The court cannot be considered a
political entity. The notion that justices interpret laws to their best ability and not just provide a
reason to impose their own political views is essential to the trust of the public in the Court’s
institution in general.

For decades, this notion has been widely accepted by the American public which has allowed
the Court to make controversial decisions.

In the case of Bush v. Gore, for instance in 2000’s Bush v. Gore, for instance, the Court was
divided into transparently political lines in order to propel George W. Bush to the presidency,

causing a furor to almost the whole Democratic Party. However, the damage wasn’t lasting: A
study from 2007 discovered the following “the Court seems as widely respected today as it was
10 years ago,” without significant differences in partisanship. The best indicator of the
trustworthiness of the Court was not a political affiliation but rather the individual’s commitment
to the rule of law.

Since then in the last few years, it has become clear that the American democratic system of
government has fallen into a swath of disintegration. The increasing polarization of the political
system has caused people on both sides of the aisle to see politics as more than a zero-sum
game; the growing distrust of traditional institutions, especially on the Republican side, has led
to the general decline in trust in the federal government.

In the theory of things theory, the Court could be able to weather the headwinds of
anti-establishment. However, since 2016 Republicans took a variety of actions that have made it
more difficult for anyone to view the Court as an institution above the political landscape.

The time Justice Antonin Scalia died in February of 2016, GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell infamously refused to even hold hearings for Obama’s replacement nominee, the
current Attorney General Merrick Garland until after the election in 2016. McConnell’s argument
was the appointment of justices should not be made during the midst of an election however the
reason seemed to be purely political. Garland has a liberal stance and could have tilted off the
Court from a conservative 5-4 majority to a liberal 5-4 one.

In the end, Donald Trump won the 2016 election, despite being defeated by the vote of popular
support. He then was able to change the Court according to McConnell’s preferred guidelines.

Then, he named a staunch conservatism Neil Gorsuch to the Court instead of Garland which
secured a 5-4 majority for conservatives in the Supreme Court. Then, long-time Republican
activist Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed amid a heated debate over Christine Blasey-Ford’s
allegations she claimed Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted his girlfriend which was being one of
the more polarizing and bitter trials of Supreme Court history.

When Justice Ginsburg died in September 2020, McConnell and Trump rushed Amy Coney
Barrett onto the Court prior to the 2020 election and gave conservatives a 3-3 advantage and
revealed the supposed fundamental principle behind that Garland obstruction to be just a
political fabrication. (McConnell’s attempt to square the circle, by citing an unproven rule against
the Senate accepting nominations from opposing party presidents during election seasons, was
ridiculous.)

In September 2021 the court’s overall approval rate was down to forty percent. This was one of
the worst numbers that have been recorded in more than two decades in Gallup surveys. The
drop was most noticeable for Democrats however, it was also evident among Republicans who
appear to be changing their views on institutions writ big in the aftermath of Trump’s defeat, and
his subsequent claims of an unfairly biased against him. Another poll conducted in September
by Quinnipiac provided the Court a less favorable approval rating of 37 percent, which is the

lowest level in the company’s polls since 2004. A third poll, published in November, showed that
the majority of Americans believed that the Court was motivated by political considerations
rather than by law.

In an article published in April, political researchers Miles Armaly and Elizabeth Lane provide
evidence that links the declining legitimacy of the Court to the recent years of partisan war.
Through luck, the authors started conducting a study regarding the impact of confirmation
contests on Court legitimacy during the time prior to Ginsburg’s death, which allowed them to
conduct a follow-up with the same respondents shortly after her passing. They discovered that
McConnell’s zeal to fill the vacancy by an appointee of Trump appointment weakened
Democratic voters’ trust in the Court on a range of issues, but did not increase it for
Republicans.

“Our results indicate that the increasing politicization by the Senate of Supreme Court
confirmation hearings harms the credibility of the Court,” they conclude. “Attitudes concerning
the Court that are usually characterized by their stability are affected by the decisions of the
branches that are elected.”

Of course, it’s true that the Court itself hasn’t helped the situation. With the Trump appointments,
the Court’s legal jurisprudence changed to the left. Chief Justice John Roberts, seemingly the
only conservative worried about the Court’s reputation as a political institution, is no longer able
to join four liberals to limit his colleagues’ political ambitions.

This is the situation within which Alito’s Roe Draft Opinion was released. A majority of the
questions about the legitimacy of the ruling have been focused around how the draft was leaked
— and on the way, it will make it appear that the Supreme Court looks like any other Washington
institution. But this isn’t just inside baseball the court’s legitimacy: The more significant impact
on the legitimacy of the Court will likely come directly from the ruling should it ever is made law.

A new paper written by Logan Strother and Shana Gadarian Political scientists from Purdue and
Syracuse respectively, suggests that the increase in extreme partisanship has altered the
Court’s capacity to issue controversial decisions and retain its legitimacy following. With the
current climate they conclude that “policy disagreements regarding Supreme Court decisions
lead individuals to see that decision, as well as even the Court in general, as politically
motivated” and, as they argue, undermines the legitimacy of the Court’s core.

From 1989 to the present, each Gallup poll about Roe v. Wade has found constant support from
the public to keep the ruling in place. In the most recent poll that was conducted in 2008, those
who supported the ruling beat opponents 19 percent to one (52 against 33). In 2021, the
difference was 26, (58 from 32). Three additional polls reveal even greater support for the
continuation of Roe. The consistent results over time, along with the public’s awareness of the
issue of abortion, suggest that public opinion is strongly and deeply held.

In this light, it’s reasonable to believe Alito’s hardline decision which would overturn Roe Entirely
without ambiguous words — could make the Court’s already low credibility in the public’s eyes.

Abortion and the Supreme Court: what’s at stake?