Is the US supreme court still trustworthy?
Zivvy News x Ponderly collaboration.
- The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) was established with the Judiciary Act of 1789 via Article III of the Constitution. It is the “highest judicial body in the United States” that consists of the Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices confirmed by the Senate.
- Below the US Supreme Court, there are 13 appellate courts called the Court of Appeals. Each of the 12 regional districts is broken down into 94 federal judicial districts.
- A July 2022 Rasmussen Report found that 63% of Democrats had a disfavorable opinion of the Court, while 72% of Republicans and 52% of independent voters had a favorable opinion of the court.
- In January 2022, Americans were surveyed in regard to their opinions on the court’s political leaning; 57% of Democrats believed the court was conservative, while the majority of Republicans said the court was center-leaning.
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is supposed to be an objective, bi-partisan, co-equal branch of government. It's supposed to be less political than the other branches' two-and four-year election cycles, making it the most respected government branch in the past. But today, that third pillar of our government has become increasingly untrustworthy, possibly overreaching its powers.
With lifetime appointments, generally, a single president only gets to appoint one or two supreme court justices (if any), and congressional approval generally means only moderates get through. However, during Obama's term, he was denied an appointment with eight months left in his second term in an unscrupulous move by Congress. Contrastly, the single-term Trump administration was able to push through three justices loyal to him, one just days before the 2020 election, with little debate or bi-partisanship.
All three of those justices have already shown they are untrustworthy. All three said Roe (on abortion rights) was settled law during their congressional reviews. Then all three immediately overturned it, seemingly proving they were appointed with an agenda apart from protecting the rights of Americans. Additionally, Justice Clarence Thomas' wife was heavily involved in the January 6th insurrection, but Thomas has not recused himself from cases dealing with that event. He clearly cannot act objectively and further diminishes trust in the entire institution.
These and other scandals have plagued this court, dropping US approval and trust to its lowest levels since polls began. If nothing is done to rectify this, it can have far-reaching adverse effects on our country's system of governance.
The overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court via the Dobbs decision has highlighted the power held by the judicial branch of the government. This landmark decision by the high court has been so controversial it has even resulted in calls for the impeachment of justices. In light of this and with the current tense political atmosphere, it may seem reasonable to some to lose all trust in SCOTUS.
However, one should first consider the pedigree of the justices and look at their storied academic and legal careers. The decisions made by these individuals are not done ad hoc (with certain ends in mind), but come from decades of legal experience and understanding. It is also important to consider the history concerning the high court's previous reversals, such as repealing Jim Crow laws which had been legally established by SCOTUS back in the 1896 decision of Plessy v. Ferguson and had, in effect, turned black Americans into second-class citizens. The Supreme Court later overturned this racial and illegal ruling in 1954 with the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision. This ability to overturn previous decisions is exactly what gives SCOTUS its highest credibility—the ability to admit wrongs and fix legally-enshrined mistakes.
Ultimately, the reason why the founders of the country implemented the separation of powers is to limit any individual or group from seizing control of the entire government. The job of SCOTUS is to interpret the law independently of outside pressures, and it is Congress that pens the laws, not SCOTUS. Considering that the purpose of SCOTUS is to interpret the law and to overturn previous illegal decisions, which its highly proficient members are effectively doing, the US Supreme Court is and remains trustworthy.