“…the media makes it sound as though you are just always going right to your personal preference. So if they think you are antiabortion or something personally, they think that’s the way you always will come out. They think you’re for this or for that. They think you become like a politician,” Justice Clarence Thomas said in a lecture at the University of Notre Dame. “That’s a problem. You’re going to jeopardize any faith in the legal institutions.” He then had the temerity to claim that he and his Court colleagues call them like they see them, even if they conflict with their personal beliefs.
Right. Or, should I say, far right?
This after five right-wing justices, who got their jobs because they oppose Roe v. Wade, (1) essentially eviscerated that 48-year old decision, upholding Texas’ abortion ban at six weeks and its enforcement by opportunistic bounty hunters, and (2) the same less-than-Fab Five, joined by the Chief Justice, decimated what little was left of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in an endorsement of Republican efforts to steal forthcoming elections via a barrage of voter suppression legislation. It is noteworthy that both decisions were courtesy of the “shadow docket” whereby the Justices don’t have to explain their shameful decisions.
Justice Breyer, in an ABC interview, warned Americans not to view the Texas abortion decision as political. “I am worried if people don’t understand it, they won’t have trust in our institutions.” The public is not buying this hokum. In just one year, approval of the Court has plummeted by 28 percent, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll. If you thought Breyer should remain on the Court instead of walking off into the well-deserved retirement sunset, his spewing of nonsense like this might cause you to change your opinion.
Justice Barrett joined this chorus of Court fantasists while standing next to Mitch McConnell at a Louisville event honoring him, among other things, for his long service in the cause of packing the Supreme Court with ultra-conservative jurists who would do the Republicans’ bidding: banning abortions; suppressing the vote; allowing racist gerrymandering; permitting guns to flourish; and cementing minority rule. “My goal today,” she said, ”is to convince you that this Court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks.” McConnell’s smile while Barrett spouted this absurdity would have done the Cheshire Cat proud.
The fact that one-third of the Supreme Court feels it necessary to deny that the Court has become a center of partisan hackery proves that it has. In a modest paraphrase of Hamlet, “Methinks they doth protest too much.”
Given that partisanship consistently influences Court decisions, it can no longer be said that the Supreme Court is the “least dangerous branch.” When you overlay ideological rigidity on top of the natural human inclination (and judges are, contrary to what many believe, human) to go with one’s biases, it should go without saying that the five far right justices are partisan political hacks. When Barrett and Thomas, and remarkably even Breyer, claim otherwise, rarely has the gaslight burned so brightly.
September 24, 2021