Nate Jackson / September 12, 2022

Roberts’s Rules of Court Legitimacy

The chief justice rebukes leftists who undermine the Supreme Court after decisions they don’t like.

As the head of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts is rightly concerned with upholding and defending the integrity of the nation’s highest court. He hasn’t always done that perfectly, of course, given that he’s human like the rest of us. But in his first public remarks following the last Court term, Roberts stood firm against Democrat critics — including Vice President Kamala Harris — who have taken aim at various rulings and the legitimacy of the Court itself.

“The Court has always decided controversial cases and decisions always have been subject to intense criticism and that is entirely appropriate,” Roberts said Friday. “But I don’t understand the connection between the opinions people disagree with and the legitimacy of the Supreme Court.” Roberts argued: “You don’t want the political branches telling you what the law is. And you don’t want public opinion to be the guide of what the appropriate decision is.” He added: “Yes, all of our opinions are open to criticism. In fact, our members do a great job of criticizing some opinions from time to time. But simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for criticizing the legitimacy of the Court.”

Roberts is absolutely right about public opinion having no bearing on what a ruling should be, and a ruling people don’t like doesn’t necessarily mean the Court was wrong. He’s also right to find it “gut-wrenching every morning to drive into a Supreme Court with barricades around it.” That’s what radical leftist protesters necessitated, in part thanks to protests outside the justices’ homes and even an attempt on Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s life.

We will, however, take partial issue with Roberts’s claim about the political branches. He makes a fair point that many decisions the Court makes involve evaluating the constitutionality of presidential or congressional actions. For example, just because a president signs something solely for political gain — say, student loan “forgiveness” — doesn’t make it legal or constitutional.

Yet Roberts himself is guilty of bending over backwards at times to make sure the political branches get their way, the Constitution be damned. His abominable decision on ObamaCare in 2012 comes immediately to mind, though we could pick other examples. Congressional Democrats wrote and Barack Obama signed a law mandating that American citizens engage in certain private commercial transactions, namely buying health insurance, or face a monetary penalty due to the federal government. Democrats went to great length to write in the law and argue, including before the Court, that the penalty was not a tax because imposing a tax was less politically popular than calling it a penalty.

Nevertheless, Roberts switched sides on the ruling, independently reasoning separately from the Court’s four leftists that the penalty was a tax after all, and thus he upheld the Democrats’ willful violation of constitutional authority with a fig leaf of the power to tax.

The Court’s other question of legitimacy has to do with the unprecedented leak of its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. Roberts ordered an investigation into that leak, but the findings have yet to be released.

Dobbs, of course, is the source of most Democrat denunciations of the Supreme Court in recent months — rulings on gun rights and bureaucratic authority following close behind.

Criticizing the Court keeps the abortion issue in front of angry women voters, who are the Democrats’ only hope to stave off predicted losses in November’s midterm elections. That political calculation is precisely why Kamala Harris weighed in over the weekend.

“I think this is an activist Court,” Harris insisted. “We had an established right for almost half a century, which is the right of women to make decisions about their own body as an extension of what we have decided to be, the privacy rights to which all people are entitled, and this Court took that constitutional right away. And we are suffering as a nation because of it. That causes me great concern about the integrity of the Court overall.”

Harris has it exactly backwards. In 1973, an activist Court discovered a previously unrecognized “right” to kill another human inside the womb. The Dobbs Court simply said that such a “right” is located nowhere in the U.S. Constitution, sending the issue back to the states where it belongs. Harris and her pals would rather destroy the Senate filibuster to enable packing the Supreme Court. Talk about delegitimizing institutions.

But again, Harris isn’t concerned with getting the facts right. She’s aiming to stir up the emotions of women voters.

By the way, it hasn’t exactly been empowering to women to grant men the reality of sex without consequences. Family degradation since Roe has hurt men, women, and children alike, far more than Harris’s imagined “suffering” from restrictions on a barbaric practice.

A fully legitimate Supreme Court endeavors to uphold Rule of Law no matter the politics. If Congress and the president, or state and local authorities, have acted within the parameters of the U.S. Constitution, they have nothing to fear from Supreme Court justices faithfully abiding by their own constitutional oaths. If, on the other hand, politicians are bent on achieving ends-justify-the-means power like the Biden-Harris regime is, the Supreme Court will be right in every rebuke. That’s not “activism.” It’s the very definition of constitutional legitimacy.

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