But Roberts, who was nominated by President George W. Bush for his position on the court, added: “The fact that people disagree with an opinion is no reason to criticize the legitimacy of the court.”
The chief justice is absolutely right to be concerned that Americans are losing confidence in the Supreme Court: A June Gallup poll found that 25% of respondents say they have confidence in the court, a record 40% two years ago.
The hard truth, however, is that Roberts must shift the blame for the loss of confidence in the Supreme Court to himself and his five fellow conservative justices.
Decisions recently made by conservative judges on current issues such as abortion, climate change regulations and gun laws have resembled rulings by the Republican National Committee more than the nation’s highest court.
The most glaring partisan decision overturned Roe v. Wade, ending a constitutional right guaranteed to women since 1973. Roberts voted to uphold Mississippi’s law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy but did not join his conservative colleagues in Roe’s reversal, a statement nearly two-thirds of Americans disagree with, a poll shows. from DailyExpertNews in July.
According to a Pew Research Center poll, the Supreme Court has fallen from 70% approval in 2020 to 48% this year — the lowest since Pew began following the court’s public approval in 1987. But the Dobbs v. Jackson decision to overthrow Roe isn’t the only reason for the court’s precipitous drop in the eyes of Americans.
In the same week that the Supreme Court ruled that states must decide whether a woman has the fundamental right to control her own body, the six conservative judges — including Roberts — repealed a century-old New York state law that requires people to carry a concealed weapon to meet additional requirements designed to reduce gun violence.
That decision came just weeks after a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York that left 10 dead, and at a time when a July DailyExpertNews poll found that 66% of Americans wanted tougher gun laws, up from 60% in 2019. The obvious discrepancies with how the public views these decisions have led many to believe, rightly or wrongly, that the conservative judges made decisions based on politics, not law.
The same can be said about the court’s rulings on matters involving religion: The court appeared to support the GOP’s goal of eroding the wall between church and state, with a few rulings condemning the six conservative judges, including Roberts, were again pitted against the three Liberal judges. the ones. One case ruled that the state of Maine could use taxpayers’ money to support private schools that provide religious education; the other sided with a public high school coach, who ruled he had a constitutionally protected right to pray, sometimes in the presence of team members, on the sidelines of the football field after games ended.
These same six conservative Supreme Court justices limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to broadly regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants, in what was seen as a victory for the GOP that has long opposed climate-related regulation and a loss for the government. Biden administration. Roberts wrote that decision himself.
Two more 6-3 rulings in which conservatives prevailed limit the protection of criminal suspects while making it harder to hold the police accountable for violating one’s constitutional rights.
All of this helps explain the recent Pew poll, which found that only 28% of Democrats and Democratic-oriented independents favor the Supreme Court, compared to 73% of Republicans and those leaning Republicans who had a favorable opinion of the court. It marks the largest partisan divide in terms of court views in the 35 years Pew has conducted this poll.
If Roberts wants to improve the legitimacy of the court, he must turn his attention to his fellow conservative judges — not to the millions of Americans who rightly view this 6-3 conservative court as little more than an arm of the GOP.
Aside from that, the chief justice shouldn’t be surprised if a future Congress, controlled by Democrats, reforms or even expands the Supreme Court in hopes of increasing confidence in our nation’s supreme court for the millions who have lost it.