U.S. Supreme Court justices have revealed some of their behind-the-scenes frustrations in public in rare displays of defensiveness and anger.
Samuel Alito became the fifth justice to speak out when he aired his grievances Thursday at Notre Dame Law School against critics who call the court "sneaky" or "sinister" after the Sept. 1 decision that allowed a Texas abortion ban to stand, and which has prompted an usual amount of public comment, reported CNN.
"Rarely have so many justices uttered such provocative, off-the-bench comments at the same time," wrote CNN legal analyst Joan Biskupic. "Some are at cross purposes, but they all highlight the potential for declining confidence in America's highest court. Public opinion polls and new congressional scrutiny reinforce a possible new threat to the court's reputation and legitimacy."
While the conservative majority has tried to downplay the significance of their rulings, the liberal minority hasn't been quiet about their frustration since Donald Trump stacked the court with three right-wing justices.
"The gulf between the justices is not unlike the differences between red and blue America," wrote Biskupic. "A disconnect also exists between the conservative majority and the public. Gallup reported that the court's job approval rating had dropped 9 points since July, to 40 percent of Americans approving of the job the justices are doing."
That poll came just after the conservative majority declined to block the Texas abortion law, and and upcoming cases on abortion rights, the Second Amendment and public aid for public schools could test public opinion even further.
"On today's court, Biskupic wrote, "all six conservatives were appointed by Republican presidents and the three remaining liberals were appointed by Democratic presidents. In earlier eras, alignments did not break as neatly along political lines."
"Decisions in closely watched cases often follow the familiar lines," she added. "In the 2020-21 term, the six conservative justices (over liberal dissent) narrowed the reach of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and ruled against union organizers on agricultural land. The recent disputes regarding abortion, the eviction moratorium and asylum policy also split the justices largely by ideological and political affiliation."