Aziz Huq Writes About Public Confidence in the Supreme Court

Ethics reform not enough to restore public confidence in partisan Supreme Court

Public trust in the Supreme Court is in sharp decline. Gallup reports poll numbers that are the lowest in more than a decade. A new partisan divide has also emerged. Unlike in previous moments of public distrust, Democrats and Republicans depart dramatically in their views on the court.

The reasons for these troubling trends aren’t obscure. From abortion to guns to climate change and student debt, the court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. consistently delivers policy outcomes that the Republican Party espouses but can’t secure via elective bodies. At the same time, Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch have been dogged by a drip-feed of revelations regarding dubious financial dealings with the wealthy. The latter are often interested in the justices for ideological or fiscal reasons, not because judges have especially sparking dinner-party repartee.

But durable fixes for the court’s partisan tilt are hard to imagine. The White House sapped political energy for term limits or court expansion in 2021 by kicking the issue to a cumbersome commission that released a report steering clear of taking a stand on sweeping reform.

Read more at Chicago Sun-Times

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