With the Supreme Court set to decide multiple hot-button cases on the term beginning Monday, former Reagan administration deputy solicitor general Donald Ayer penned a scathing indictment of the current conservative majority in a New York Times column, accusing them of "off the rails" manipulation of the law for political ends.
"As the court begins a new term, regrettably, its recent history suggests that it lacks a majority of justices with sufficient concern about the basic continuity and integrity of the law or the ability of government to function," wrote Ayer. "The evidence has been growing quietly in recent years — and then, last summer, quite loudly, when the court decided to twiddle its thumbs while Texas enacted an abortion law that practically bans nearly all procedures while evading timely judicial review."
Ayer, who describes himself as an early activist in the conservative legal movement, argued that right-wing judges have morphed in to the very thing that the movement once railed against: political activists who twist the law to arrive at prejudged policy conclusions.
He cited a litany of recent and potentially upcoming decisions where the Court could cast aside precedent, including a New York firearms case that would invalidate long uncontroversial permit requirements on concealed carry, and a case that limited the ability of states to keep track of dark money.
"Perhaps the six-member conservative majority ... has come to this point out of loyalty to a proposition articulated by Ronald Reagan himself: 'Government is not the solution to our problems, government is the problem,'" wrote Ayer. "But they would do well to remember why the Reagan revolution in the law came about in the first place. It was motivated by resistance to judicial meddling, primarily by the Warren court of the 1950s and '60s, and it rested on the idea that judges are stewards of an existing body of law and not innovators charged with radically remaking it. Failing to remember that will squander the public trust that is so essential to the court's historically unquestioned authority to say what the law is."