US Abortion Ruling Damages Trust in Court
When the Supreme Court ignores the law, tramples individual human rights, and makes arbitrary judgments based on its justices’ political and religious beliefs, it has no such grounds to complain about anyone undermining its authority.
In the United States, it is taught to every American that to ensure the separation of powers, the Federal Government is separated into three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. However, trust in all three branches has been deteriorating for years. The judiciary recently lost a cataclysmic amount of credibility following its attempt to ban abortion rights.
The legislature should write laws to address the nation’s pressing issues. Still, it constantly refuses to fund anything as simple as an infrastructure bill fixing America’s collapsing bridges and airports. Only 12% of Americans express confidence in Congress.
Now the Supreme Court, controlled by a radical right-wing cadre of political activists pushed onto the court during the Trump years by a president widely viewed as illegitimate, has become the legislature and the enforcer of individual people’s choices about pregnancy. Since 1973, abortion has been recognized as a legal and constitutionally protected right in the United States of America. Around 80% of Americans agree abortion should be a legal right.
However, in an argument citing no modem day precedent, the activist Supreme Court seeks to overturn these rights of American citizens. The damage to the court’s reputation, which is supposed to be responsible for protecting the rights of American citizens, is hard to overstate. Before the latest abortion case was heard, only 35% of Americans had confidence in America’s highest court. It has issued a good deal of controversial and politically motivated rulings before, but rarely something so aggressively partisan and contrary to established precedent as this one.
It is also unsettling how this ruling was revealed to the public. The ruling has not been finalized or formally released yet. Instead, it was leaked by a staffer. The motives of the staffer are unknown. Many in the media assume it must have been a liberal outraged by the ruling. In any case, the verdict was so shocking that someone thought it was important enough to leak a month and a half ahead of time. The public agrees. It has been the biggest news story in America since its publication.
Conservative politicians have complained that the leak didn’t follow protocol. But if the 98-page opinion is so well-argued, why should they be afraid of citizens getting to read it? Do they want to ban abortion without having to explain their actions?
Their concern is that leaking the un-finalized draft could be an attempt to influence the final votes of the justices. The possibility would be concerning if the Supreme Court was operating legitimately as a non-partisan arbitrator of the law. However, when it ignores the law, tramples individual human rights, and makes arbitrary judgments based on its justices’ political and religious beliefs, it has no such grounds to complain about anyone undermining its authority. The Supreme Court’s actions have undermined its authority.
Republicans have responded by proposing a nationwide abortion ban. Legislators in each Republican-controlled state have already or are planning to ban most abortions in their states. That’s about half of the states. They would do it at the national level if they could. They grab as much power as they can.
The United States of America, the country that heralds itself as “the land of the free” in its national anthem, the hegemon that invades smaller countries thousands of miles away to bomb for democracy, is now set to offer its citizens less reproductive freedom than more than half the countries in the world.
It is no wonder trust in American institutions is declining.