The American public is losing confidence and trust in the Supreme Court. Of course, there have been a few significant events over the course of the last several years that have had an effect on this, but Justice Elena Kagan spoke on the matter Friday, addressing the larger overarching issue, and what must be done if the court wants to repair its reputation and restore public confidence.
When Mitch McConnell used his power as Senate Majority Leader in the last year of President Barack Obama’s second term to block Obama from seating a Supreme Court Justice, it was a blow to trust in the institution. The various controversies over Donald Trump’s three nominations during his single term didn’t help.
Now Congress is actively working to pass protections for basic rights like marriage equality and access to contraceptives, things Americans have taken for granted for, respectively, years and decades, because of SCOTUS’ recent overturn of a half-century precedent protecting access to abortion care.
Still, Justice Kagan explains, the damage to the Supreme Court’s legitimacy doesn’t come from any single decision, so much as from a broader move away from the ethos of the nation as a whole.
Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan: "If, over time, the Court loses all connection with the public and with public sentiment that's a dangerous for a democracy…That's why the legitimacy of the Court is so important and why public confidence in the Court is so important." #SCOTUS pic.twitter.com/PHZwvf3GXw
— CSPAN (@cspan) July 22, 2022
“The court doesn’t have the power of the purse, it doesn’t have the power of the sword. It has nothing that makes people adhere to our decisions, except for people’s thinking that we are a legitimate institution handing down legitimate decisions…Especially with respect to our Constitutional rulings, there’s no way for any other branch of government to overrule them. If the court is — I’m not talking about any particular decision, or even any particular series of decisions — but if over time, the court loses all connection with the public and with public sentiment, that’s a dangerous thing for democracy.”
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com