By Spencer M-D. ’25
Throughout history, the Supreme Court has been known to be an institution of impartiality and justice. However, in recent months, we have seen it spin out of control as the balance has been upset by the six justice majority held by the conservatives. The court gains exorbitant bias when either party is able to receive an overwhelming majority (over five justices) on the court. The pendulum of the United States system of jurisprudence is beginning to slam toward the side of the conservatives as Trump’s judicial nominees begin to make skewed decisions. The judicial system in this country is delicate and at constant threat and the actions of these new judges are not helping.
Last spring, justice Amy Coney Barrett was nominated and confirmed to the Supreme Court as a replacement of the late justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her nomination signified a stepping stone in the eyes of conservative lawmakers, as they hoped to gain more control in order to further their agenda. There was a furious argument of the ethics of Trump placing a new justice on the court only months from the election. President Trump’s appointment of justice Barrett was similar to when Obama appointed now Attorney General Merrick Garland who was promptly rejected by the Senate citing concerns that it was way too late in Obama’s term but the same concerns were not brought up for justice Barrett’s nomination.
In an interview conducted by the Gryphon Gazette with Professor Walker from Michael E. Moritz College of Law, he mentioned that “a larger majority does affect the types of cases that make their way to the Supreme Court. In other words, organizations and individuals are more willing to pursue political/ideological litigation when they think there’s a majority of the court that would rule in their favor. That’s one reason, for instance, why we see a lot of litigation around abortion rights right now.” In the same interview, he also mentioned, “The general philosophy of the justices is to apply the law as written, not to impose their personal policy or political preferences. But the court is also asked to decide very contentious social issues, ranging from abortion and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity to gun rights and religious liberty claims against COVID health polices—just to name a few. Many of those cases are very hard and controversial, and it’s not unusual to see the court split 5-4 or 6-3. And those decisions can have an enormous effect on the country.”
In a recent CNN article, Supreme Court Reporter Ariane de Vogue mentioned: “They handed out a pair of decisions with deep political undertones that will bolster the narratives put forward by the poles of both parties. The justices also foreshadowed fissures that will likely widen next year as the court hears blockbuster cases with broad social implications concerning abortion, the Second Amendment and possibly affirmative action.” The Supreme Court has extreme reach to every person in this country’s life either literally or emotionally.
In a recent interview, Nicole Sorger, Head of Crystal’s History Department, mentioned, “When there is a strict constructionist majority it becomes more difficult for the Supreme Court to make decisions that respond to cutting edge social issues that are happening in public opinion because there is a resistance to public ideas.” This is especially true in this year of the court as the docket is especially politically charged. In the same interview Ms. Sorger mentioned “The pendulum effect is very impactful and again can operate in such a way that makes the court more politicized. Not fully partisan, but it takes the court away from their mission of deciding modern day issues and makes it a political battle field.”
In the past, when a large majority was gained by one side there was a kind of pendulum effect. As the court swings one way, it knocks justices who sit in the middle to the opposite side. We have seen a very similar effect on the current Chief Justice John Roberts. As mentioned in a recent NPR article by Congressional Correspondent Susan Davis and Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg, “Chief Justice John Roberts used to be seen as a solid conservative, but as the center of conservative politics moved to the right, so did the justices appointed after him. Now with a 6-3 conservative supermajority on the court, what role does the Chief Justice play?” To answer the final question in the quote, in the past, we have seen justices topple over into other political positions due to a court with an overwhelming majority held by their former party.
Upon examination of the important cases brought to the court in the recent months including the one concerning the new laws surrounding abortion in Texas demonstrates the new conservative perspective on the Supreme Court. The justices also have been splitting upon partisan lines much more commonly than in the past years.
The Court needs to learn to work together and return to their states of independence from partisan bickering. Currently they are placing logs on the fire of disaster while it should be their job to try and extinguish it. If action is not taken soon, there will be irreversible damage done to this country and our Constitution.
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