The liberal mainstream media is using the opening of the Supreme Court’s term this year as an excuse to attack its conservative members in an attempt to undermine its legitimacy. As Mark Paoletta writes in the Wall Street Journal:
The ascendant originalist approach at the court is more faithful to the Constitution, but it is less welcoming to the liberal policy-making many have come to expect from the court since the Warren era. Expect to see many more baseless attacks on the court’s conservative members in the future.
As Peter Roff points out this effort has been somewhat successful in swaying surface level public opinion polls of the Court.
The undermining of the court’s legitimacy is part of the political process, not the legal and certainly not the democratic one. Everything from the references to its poll numbers to the way the current majority is described – conservative, far-right, hard right – rather than originalist, constitutionalist or even as justices favoring a narrow interpretation of the Constitution’s meaning rather than an expansive one – are all notes in the same song. Progressives want to restore the court’s position as the final word on liberal causes it’s been since FDR and are not especially concerned about how they do it. They reject the idea it should function as the referee in disputes between the branches of the federal government, the states and, on occasion, the people.
The latest meritless attacks on the Court are from another liberal dark money group doing the bidding of the far left in a recent Politico article not worth linking. As Carrie Severino describes them:
The substance of the article is a heap of innuendo apparently advanced in the hope that readers will speculate that there are ethical lapses lurking in the shadows of spousal business activity, just waiting to be revealed. The piece discusses at length the law practice of Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s husband, the consulting business of Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, and the legal recruiting work of Chief Justice John Roberts’ wife . . . without identifying a single disclosure rule broken or breach of ethics on the part of those justices.
Mark Paoletta responds in part by pointing out the hypocrisy of the press never calling out transgressions that appear to be much worse from liberal icon, former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
The Politico story makes much of Mr. Barrett’s continuing to practice law after moving to Washington when his wife joined the Supreme Court. But by sticking with his Indiana-based firm, SouthBank Legal, Mr. Barrett hasn’t raised any appearance issues. SouthBank Legal doesn’t have a Supreme Court practice and has never represented clients before the court.
Neither Politico nor the press generally raised such concerns over Marty Ginsburg, who moved to Washington and joined the Fried Frank law firm when his wife, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was appointed to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 1980. He practiced at the firm until he retired in 2009. There was no hue and cry over Judge and later Justice Ginsburg not providing a list of Fried Frank’s many clients to allay public concerns over a potential conflict. A review of Justice Ginsburg’s financial disclosures from 2005 to 2009 confirms that she never disclosed Marty Ginsburg’s clients and didn’t even list Fried Frank in the disclosure form’s section on spouse’s noninvestment income. Instead she listed her husband’s income as coming from Martin Ginsburg P.C.
The reality is these are not ethics violations nor is the Court in crisis. There is no credible, non-partisan reason to question the legitimacy of the Court. As Roth says:
If there’s a crisis, it’s because the cultural elites who regard the courts as the backstop of liberalism created it after they sensed things were no longer going their way.