Supreme Court justices bristle at being called partisan hackers


You may have noticed that an unusual number of Supreme Court justices have started to defend themselves publicly – my favorite is Amy Coney Barrett’s defense, we are not hackers – as credible and hard-line arbitrators of American law, unshakeable by politics or by the fact that Donald Trump had been exceptionally outspoken in saying that he would only appoint judges whom he was certain would overthrow Roe v. Wade.

Unsurprisingly, much of that defense comes after the Supreme Court refused, by a 5: 4 vote, to suspend a clearly unconstitutional Texas law that effectively banned nearly all abortions in the state and put in place a justice of the vigilante type to enforce the law. The women were essentially forced to leave Texas to obtain a constitutionally protected abortion. The decision does not overrule Roe v. Wade. However, this seems to many a clear signal that the court is probably paving the way. Even Chief Justice John Roberts joined in the dissent.

Mike Littwin

The funniest part of Barrett’s comment on political hacks is that it came during a speech she was presented in by – wait – GOP Senator Mitch McConnell, to whom she unmistakably owes her seat. You may remember that McConnell rushed his confirmation vote just four years after denying Merrick Garland one. And where do you think the speech took place? Yes, yes, at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville.

As Steve Vladeck, professor of law at the University of Texas, told Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post: not partisan that. . . at an event where she was presented by Senator McConnell. It is either remarkably deaf or deliberate. Neither is encouraging.

You can roll your eyes at any time. Or maybe you just put on your seat belts. The court has always been political, but a conservative majority currently in place 6-3 will make rulings in the new term, which begins Monday, on God, guns and abortion, plus affirmative action and a few other contentious issues. . We don’t yet know if Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who has tested positive for COVID-19, will be there. He would be fully vaccinated and without any symptoms.

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In the meantime, the public defense count can go up to four or five judges, depending on how you do the math. Conservative Clarence Thomas gave a speech similar to Barrett’s. Liberal Judge Stephen Breyer – the longest-serving judge and the one many progressives hope to retire when Democrats still barely control the Senate – said in a Harvard law conference that he opposed that the judges are considered as “junior-university politicians”.

Here’s why people may believe it. If Democrats lose the Senate next year, it’s likely that the aforementioned McConnell and his party will never confirm a Joe Biden candidate in court, because that’s how they operate. Breyer knows it’s true. And even.

The question is to know what foreshadows all these legal agitations. I see at least two possibilities. First, that the judges know they stepped in – especially after the absurd late-night “shadow case” ruling on Texas law – and can now understand that if they overrule Roe, they’ll be pilloried by a considerable number of Americans, for now and perhaps forever. And they listen. Second, they try their defenses before toppling Roe, which could happen this quarter when the court passes the Mississippi abortion law.

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The latest salvo comes from Judge Samuel Alito, whom we – the media, politicians, members of his own court – apparently hurt by the suggestion that the Supreme Court owed America more than a one-page memo explaining why they would perhaps allow a law to go into effect, even temporarily, that has already harmed thousands of women.

I find it hard to find much sympathy for Alito, who in a speech to Notre Dame said: inappropriate methods to achieve his ends. And this portrayal is fueling unprecedented efforts to intimidate or undermine the court as an independent institution. “

Shadow dossier refers to cases that require immediate decisions – often on whether to keep a law in abeyance – and do not allow full arguments. As for a cabal, did anyone really call it that? If so, I’m sure there are many who want to give this person the proper credit.

It could be the expression, I guess, that bothers people, although he put it on the press and politicians and not on his colleague, Elena Kagan, who lambasted the so-called shadow dossier. Dissenting against the court’s shadow vote on abortion, Kagan wrote: “The majority decision is emblematic of too much of this court’s shadow decision-making – which is becoming more irrational, inconsistent with each passing day. and impossible to defend.

But I don’t think the fact that the Supreme Court’s approval rating took a hit – along with virtually every other American institution – has anything to do with shadow files. Or with cabals. Now, when it comes to political hacking, that may be closer to the truth.

And poor Alito. Welcome to the world. He didn’t say he had been threatened, endangered or doxxed. Just, you know, he ended up on the wrong side of old-school American criticism of free speech.

Sonia Sotomayor also gave a speech, the fifth justice to do so in recent days, but it was not about defending the court. She spoke of the frustration of having to write so many dissenting opinions in the last session. She will probably write more this year.

Speaking about the Texas decision in front of a group of law students, Sotomayor, who called it “mind-blowing” in her dissent, said: “There’s going to be a lot of deception in the law, a huge amount. . Look at me, look at my dissent.

There will be more than disappointment if the court overturns Roe v. Wade. The Mississippi Case – Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – to be heard on the first day of December, although the decision won’t come much later. The court did not have to take up this case. He chose to take this case. And if he cancels Roe, the accusations of political hacking might be the nicest thing critics will have to say.


Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to be counted. He’s covered Dr. J, four presidential nominations, six national conventions, and countless mind-numbing speeches in the snow of New Hampshire and Iowa.


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