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Does the US judicial system have a legitimacy issue?

SCOTUS member in the news.

ProPublica’s bombshell revelations that SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas thought private jets and luxury vacations fully paid by his billionaire friend and GOP donor were not unethical, if not outright illegal, further harms falling public trust in the institution of the highest court in America.

A Gallup Poll from late 2022 cites trust in the court at a historic low

  • Only 47% trust the judicial branch; previous low was 53%

  • 40% job approval of U.S. Supreme Court is tied for record low

  • A record-high 42% say Supreme Court is too conservative

Are major judicial decisions and interpretations of the US Constitution being driven by political ideologies as opposed to precedent?

Well...technically, no. The judicial branch of the US government is independent and solely responsible for interpreting and making decisions based on law and the Constitution. Judges are expected to follow precedent and established legal doctrines when making decisions, and political ideologies are not meant to be a factor in the decision-making process.

While it is true that judges may have personal opinions and biases, these opinions must be set aside when making decisions, and judges must adhere to the precedent that has been established by the courts.

So, how is that precedent thing going?

If the SCOTUS majority decision on Roe V. Wade is the litmus test, then quite poorly in the public's perception on what they can reasonably rely on, especially when it comes to upholding hard-won civil rights. There is also a call from Democrat representatives in Congress to reign in SCOTUS members under an ethics guide; a move that immediately riled Republican voices in opposition.

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