Faith in the U.S. Supreme Court continues to decline. Morning Consult, in a poll released on May 8, found that only 49% of U.S. adults trusted the High Court compared to 57% on April 23. And other polls have also shown public trust in the High Court eroding; Gallup, for example, has found that approval of the Supreme Court is down to 40% compared to 62% in 2001.
In a scathing editorial published on May 15, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s editorial board argues that the U.S. Supreme Court has become much too politicized for its own good — and that the likely demise of Roe v. Wade will only cause the public’s view of the institution to erode more.
The Post’s editorial board writes, “The breakdown of U.S. Supreme Court legitimacy may already have begun as the public perception of the Court morphs from one of respectful observances of the law as interpreted by the nation’s top judicial scholars to a view of them as little more than political hacks in black robes…. The Court’s politicization is no longer something justices can hide. The three most recent arrivals to the bench misled members of Congress by indicating they regarded Roe v. Wade as settled law, not to be overturned.”
The arrivals that the Post-Dispatch’s editorial board is referring to are Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Justice Neal Gorsuch, all appointed by former President Donald Trump. President Joe Biden’s nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate but won’t replace the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer until later this year.
A leaked majority draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito finds that the George W. Bush appointee joined Barrett, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch and Justice Clarence Thomas in a 5-4 argument for overturning Roe.
The editorial board adds, “Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife is an open supporter of former President Donald Trump and his efforts to subvert democracy…. If states choose simply to ignore the Court following a Roe reversal, justices will have only themselves to blame for the erosion of their stature in Americans’ minds.”