The Supreme Court Is Playing a Dangerous Game

If the chief currency of the Supreme Court is its legitimacy as an institution, then you can say with confidence that its account is as close to empty as it has been for a very long time.

Since the court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization nearly two years ago, its general approval with the public has taken a plunge. As recently as the last presidential election year, according to the Pew Research Center, 70 percent of Americans said they had a favorable view of the court. In the wake of Dobbs, that number dipped to 44 percent. Twenty-four percent of Democrats, according to Pew, said they approved of the Supreme Court.

In the latest 538 average, just over 52 percent of Americans disapproved of the Supreme Court, and around 40 percent approved.

Does the court know about its precipitous decline with much of the public? It’s hard to say. It’s easier to answer a related question: Does it care? If the recent actions of the conservative majority are any indication, the answer is no.

Over the past month, members of that majority have effectively rewritten the 14th Amendment to functionally shield Donald Trump from the constitutional consequences of his actions leading up to and on Jan. 6. They have taken up the former president’s tendentious argument that he is immune to criminal prosecution for all actions taken while in office — postponing a trial and potentially denying the public the right to know, before we go to the polls in November, whether he is a criminal in the eyes of the law.

Most recently, the court allowed the State of Texas, governed by a cadre of some of the most reactionary conservatives in the country, to carry out its own immigration policy in contravention of both federal officials and the general precedent that it’s the national government that handles the national border, not the states.

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