Justice Sotomayor’s Question

Arguments have taken place in front of the Supreme Court in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case from Mississippi that could lead to the de facto overturning of Roe v. Wade. The decision will not come soon but the Washington Post predicts that the State of Mississippi will win, gutting abortion rights in America.

Justice Sotomayor asked this question:

”Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?”

Of course the Court will survive it. The Court has already survived it. That ship has sailed.

I’m not saying that this is true of all current Supreme Court justices. I’m not even saying it’s true of Chief Justice John Roberts even though he’s a Republican appointee. He actually worries about law and precedent. But it’s true of the Court.

That ship sailed twenty years ago in Bush v. Gore, a completely political decision where a 5 to 4 vote along partisan lines decided a Presidential election. 5/4 splits usually indicate political decisions. It is a decision that Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has since expressed regret about.

The media have tacitly agreed that the Court is just another political organization in their failure to oppose vehemently Sen. McConnell’s decision not to vet the Supreme Court nomination of a sitting President, based on his own ostensible criteria which he ignored when he had the chance to grab a seat for his party by taking blatant advantage of the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (President Obama’s failure to make a bigger deal about this at the time is in my eyes the biggest failure of his Presidency.) This is one reason among many that I think the Fourth Estate is no longer an Estate of any kind but a sort of political scorekeeper. In this respect I prefer sportscasters to political reporters because the one thing you can depend on with sportscasters is their absolute priority of defending the integrity of the game. The political game is way, way more important but to most in the media is unfortunately not worth defending.

All this is why I have advocated all along that President Biden pack the Court. He might as well if given the opportunity, which I suspect Manchin would never give him.

I wish Justice Sotomayor’s question could be taken seriously. It is the question of a serious Justice. Unfortunately, it is a question wasted on a Court that has long since deserted seriousness.