Why the Attacks on The Supreme Court Keep Happening

Ginned-up controversies over SCOTUS Justices present a dangerous game.

The story

Justice Samuel Alito is the latest target in progressive efforts to portray conservative justices as corrupt or unfit for their roles. The New York Times spotlighted how an upside-down American flag was being flown outside the justice’s home, an apparent display of his “Stop the Steal” sympathies. Alito responded to the hit piece by claiming his wife “briefly” flew the flag upside-down during a dispute with a neighbor.

For years, every conservative justice on the Supreme Court has faced a barrage of attacks. Clarence Thomas’s friendship with billionaire Harlan Crow was supposedly evidence of him “disregard[ing] his higher ethical obligations.”

Amy Coney Barrett was accused of allowing her Catholic faith to interfere with her jurisprudence. And most still remember Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s circus of a Senate confirmation, accusing him of having sexually assaulted somebody at a high school party.

The sides

For years, Clarence Thomas vacationed with Harlan Crow, traveling on his yacht and private jet and staying at his private resort. His detractors believe that not only were his actions unethical, but they also broke The Ethics in Government Act, which requires public officials to disclose gifts over $250, of which Thomas received many. Thomas has not been charged with any crimes to date.

Whether or not any federal laws were broken, Thomas’s actions, at the very least, provided the appearance of scandal by having his lavish lifestyle subsidized by a wealthy, politically involved real estate investor.

On the other hand, Republicans have been quick to dismiss the attacks on Thomas and the other conservative justices, viewing them as one singular attack on the institution of the Supreme Court.

Beyond the headlines

Since the high court’s conservatives overturned Roe v Wade and broadened gun, religious, and speech rights, many on the left have sought to smear conservative justices as unfit. They are even seeking to reimpose a liberal majority by packing the court while calling for conservative resignations.

While Democrat senators demand investigations and recusals of Supreme Court justices, conservatives recall the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's overt politicization of the nation’s highest court.

In RBG’s interview with The New York Times ahead of the 2016 election, she said, “I can’t imagine what this place would be—I can’t imagine what the country would be—with Donald Trump as our president. For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be—I don’t even want to contemplate that.”

What has gotten lost in accusations of Samuel Alito being a far-right extremist, Clarence Thomas enjoying expensive vacations, and Brett Kavanaugh liking beer, is that no evidence has been presented of conservative justices making rulings contrary to the laws or constitutional mandates they are meant to uphold.

Why it matters

The left's current effort to delegitimize conservative justices reveals its true motive: transforming the court into a legislative body that champions its own policy priorities. Questions of whether laws are constitutional are subordinate to whether or not they are popular, as was seen in the reaction to Roe v Wade’s overturn.

If justices are constantly facing smear campaigns and labeled as corrupt and toxic, the court cannot remain a neutral body for settling jurisprudence.

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