Erwin Chemerinsky Los Angeles Times
If Supreme Court justices don’t want to be seen as “partisan hackers,” they shouldn’t be acting like them.
In a speech last week at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville Law School, Judge Amy Coney Barrett said, âThis tribunal is not made up of a group of partisan hackers. She added: âJudicial philosophies are not the same as political parties. “
Aside from the irony of making these statements at an event honoring Senator Mitch McConnell, who blocked Merrick Garland’s confirmation in court and rushed through Barrett’s confirmation to precisely Because of their ideologies, the reality is that time and time again the Republican majority court has ruled in favor of Republicans in the political process.
Does Barrett really expect people to believe this is a coincidence?
In the same speech, Barrett reiterated that she is an originalist, a person who believes the Constitution should be interpreted to mean what it might have meant at the time it was passed. Yet none of the court’s rulings regarding the electoral process in favor of Republicans can be defended on original grounds, showing just how false its claims are.
In a series of decisions, with all of the Republican-appointed judges in the majority and the judges appointed by the dissenting Democrats, the court tipped the scales heavily in the election in favor of the Republicans. In 2010, in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, the court ruled 5 to 4 that companies can spend unlimited amounts to elect or defeat candidates.
Business interests, which overwhelmingly favor Republican candidates in their campaign spending, outnumber unions by more than 15 to 1. There is no plausible argument that the original meaning of the First Amendment included the right of corporations to spend money. unlimited sums in election campaigns. Neither political spending nor business, as we know it today, even existed when this country was founded.
In rulings in 2013 and this year, the court’s Conservative majority gutted the protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in a way that helps Republicans and harms voters of color and Democrats.
Conservative judges, who say they focus on the text of the law in interpreting statutes, have created limits to the scope of the Voting Rights Act that are nowhere mentioned. The result is that laws passed by Republican legislatures in Georgia, Florida, Texas, and other states are now much more likely to be obeyed.
In these and other cases, Republican judges have amended the law to significantly favor Republicans in the political process. Barrett’s protest against judges being seen as “partisan hacks” rings hollow when they are. And it is laughable to say that “judicial philosophies are not the same as political parties”. I would challenge her to give just one example where the conservative justices of the court took positions that were at odds with the views of the Republican Party.
Erwin Chemerinsky is Dean of UC Berkeley Law School.