Conservative Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said questioning the integrity of the justices or implying that the court illegitimate ‘crosses an important line.”
Alito made the comment in an interview with the Wall Street Journal when asked if justices are concerned about the public losing faith in the Supreme Court since they overturned Roe v. Wade and issued other controversial rulings this year.
“It goes without saying that everyone is free to express disagreement with our decisions and to criticize our reasoning as they see fit. But saying or implying that the court is becoming an illegitimate institution or questioning our integrity crosses an important line,” Alito, the author of the majority opinion overturning Roe, said.
The ruling reversing Roe was the first time the court stripped away a constitutionally protected right that had stood for nearly a half-century. The ruling further damaged the public’s opinion of the court. A poll taken a month after SCOTUS overturned Roe shows the court’s favorability at one of its lowest points in history at just 38 percent, down 22 points from the year before.
Criticism of the court is not only coming from the public, but from liberal Justice Elena Kagan as well.
“A court does not have any warrant, does not have any rightful authority, to do anything else than act like a court,” Kagan said earlier this year in Illinois. “Why is it that people abide by its judgements? It’s not because they agree with everything the court does. Presumably, it’s because they have some understanding that, even if they don’t agree, that the court is doing its job, that the court is performing this critical function in a rule-of-law society, in a constitutional democracy.”
In another speech at a university in Rhode Island recently, Kagan once again spoke about the legitimacy of courts.
“The court shouldn’t be wandering around just inserting itself into every hot-button issue in America,” she said. “It especially shouldn’t be doing that in a way that reflects one ideology or one set of political views over another.”
And again in New York: “I think judges create legitimacy problems for themselves – undermine their legitimacy – when they don’t act so much like courts and when they don’t do things that are recognizably law. And when they instead stray into places where it looks like they are an extension of the political process or where they are imposing their own personal preferences.”
Chief Justice John Roberts disagreed with Kagan.
“Simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for questioning the legitimacy of the court,” he said at a conference in Colorado Springs. “That doesn’t change simply because people disagree with this opinion or that opinion or disagree with the particular mode of jurisprudence.”
The next SCOTUS term begins in a few days, on Oct. 3, and it is shaping up to be another consequential term as justices will consider several hot button issues, including affirmative action, voting rights, environmental regulations, immigration and religious liberty.