Introduction: Distrust of the Supreme Court

distrust of the supreme court

Distrust of the Supreme Court in the United States is at an all-time low. This distrust has little, if anything, to do with the turn to the right taken by the majority. This is recognized as par for the course. Rather, it has everything to do with the appointment, confirmation, and behavior of sitting justices.

There was the willful, racist denial of President Obama’s appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court by the Republican majority in the US Senate, thus opening the door to question the appointment and confirmation of Justice Gorschich. The sexual abuse allegations against two sitting Supreme Court Justices. Finally, the recent ethical breaches that belong to three sitting Justices all raise questions of legitimacy without ever having to address the unpopular decisions made by this court.

The Supreme Court of the United States holds a position of utmost importance within the nation’s judiciary, serving as the final arbiter of constitutional interpretation and protector of individual rights. However, in recent years, a growing sense of distrust has permeated the American public’s perception of this esteemed institution. This essay aims to delve deeper into three significant factors that contribute to this skepticism: alleged ethical scandals involving sitting Justices, confirmation hearings tainted by deception, and criminal accusations made against at least two sitting Justices. Addressing these concerns is crucial to maintain transparency and restore faith in the highest court of the land.

Ethical Scandals Involving Sitting Justices: Distrust of the Supreme Court

One of the primary catalysts for the erosion of public trust in the Supreme Court lies in the occurrence of alleged ethical scandals involving sitting Justices. An egregious example of such a scandal revolves around the late Justice Antonin Scalia. In 2016, Scalia accepted an invitation to go on a hunting trip sponsored by a wealthy businessman. What made this controversial was the fact that the businessman’s company had multiple cases pending before the Court. This raised legitimate concerns among critics who argued that such an excursion could potentially compromise the impartiality of Justice Scalia’s decision-making. While the hunting trip itself may not have violated any laws, it raised significant ethical questions about the Court’s integrity and impartiality.

Confirmation Hearings Tainted by Deception: Distrust of the Supreme Court

Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court appointees serve as a pivotal moment for nominees to demonstrate their qualifications, ethical values, and judicial temperament. Unfortunately, instances of nominees deceiving Congress about their views have significantly contributed to the erosion of public trust. One prominent and contentious example is the confirmation hearing of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. During the hearing, Kavanaugh faced allegations of sexual misconduct dating back to his high school and college years. While vehemently denying the accusations, subsequent investigations and testimonies revealed inconsistencies in his statements and raised doubts about his credibility. This dissonance between the nominee’s testimony and subsequent evidence undermined public confidence in the confirmation process and left many questioning the truthfulness and integrity of Justice Kavanaugh.

Criminal Accusations Against Sitting Justices

Another distressing aspect that fuels the public’s distrust is the emergence of criminal accusations against sitting Justices. While the Supreme Court is meant to exemplify integrity and remain untainted by corruption or criminal misconduct, the existence of such allegations undermines this ideal. One infamous case that shook the Court’s credibility occurred during the confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas in the early 1990s. Anita Hill, a former colleague, accused Thomas of sexual harassment during his time at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Thomas strongly denied the allegations, portraying himself as the victim of a politically motivated attack. Despite the contentious nature of the accusations, Thomas was ultimately confirmed. Nevertheless, the controversy surrounding the hearings cast a long shadow over the Court’s integrity, raising questions about the credibility and impartiality of the confirmation process and the Court itself.

Let’s Summarize

The mounting distrust towards the Supreme Court among the American public can be attributed to several factors, including alleged ethical scandals, deceptive confirmation hearings, and criminal accusations against sitting Justices. The case of Justice Scalia’s hunting trip raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest and compromised impartiality. Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing highlighted the issue of nominees deceiving Congress and inconsistencies in their statements.

Additionally, Justice Thomas’s accusation of sexual harassment further challenged the perception of the Court’s integrity. It is crucial for the Court to proactively address these concerns, foster transparency, and reaffirm its commitment to justice and impartiality. A robust and trustworthy Supreme Court is vital for the effective functioning of American democracy and the protection of citizens’ rights. By confronting these issues head-on and implementing measures to ensure transparency and ethical conduct, the Court can restore and maintain the public’s faith in its ability to deliver impartial justice and uphold the Constitution.

While it is easy to attribute the rising discontent with the Court over recent decisions that have sparked displeasure and distrust held by progressive members of the Democratic Party, such as those impacting rights, women’s health issues, and anti-LGBTQ rights, it is important to recognize that American discontent towards the Supreme Court is predominantly fueled by the flawed acts of sitting justices during their confirmation hearings and alleged ethical breaches; not by their demonstrated bias. It is important to remember that with any court decision, there is a winner and a loser.

We must remember these recent decisions may have contributed to public dissatisfaction; they have nothing to do with the growing distrust of this court. It is the ethical lapses and deceptive behaviors alone, attributed to some sitting Justices that undermine the integrity of the Court and erode public trust. The American people rightfully expect transparency, honesty, and ethical conduct from those entrusted with the responsibility of upholding justice and protecting their constitutional rights. Therefore, it is imperative for the Supreme Court to address these concerns, reestablish its commitment to impartiality, and take decisive action to regain the faith of the American public. Only by acknowledging and rectifying these flaws can the Court effectively fulfill its constitutional mandate and restore confidence in its role as the guardian of justice for all.


By Politics-as-Usual

Roger is a retired Professor of language and literacy. Over the past 15 years since his retirement, Roger has kept busy with reading, writing, and creating landscape photographs. In this time of National crisis, as Fascist ideas and policies are being introduced to the American people and ignored by the Mainstream Press, he decided to stand up and be counted as a Progressive American with some ideas that should be shared with as many people who care to read and/or participate in discusssions of these issues. He doesn't ask anyone to agree with his point of view, but if entering the conversation he demands civility. No conspiracy theories, no wild accusations, no threats, no disrespect will be tolerated. Roger monitors all comments and email communication. That is the only rule for entering the conversation. One may persuade, argue for a different point of view, or toss out something that has not been discussed so long as the tone remains part of a civil discussion. Only then can we find common ground and meaningful democratic change.

4 thoughts on “Distrust of the Supreme Court: A Legacy of Shame”
  1. […] The justices of the Supreme Court are expected to uphold the highest ethical standards, impartially interpret the law, and remain independent from external influences. However, recent allegations of unethical behavior by Justices Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch, along with Chief Justice Roberts’ apparent inactivity, have raised serious concerns about the Court’s integrity and its commitment to judicial ethics. […]

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