Adam Liptak of The New York Times reported today that a large majority of the American public believes that Supreme Court decisions are influenced by the political and personal views of the individual justices. Moreover, only 44% of respondents approve of the way that the Court is handling its job.
Liptak surmised that this could be a due to the general current disaffection with all government branches and agencies, or "it also could reflect a sense that the court is more political, after the ideologically divided 5-to-4 decisions in Bush v. Gore, which determined the 2000 presidential election, and Citizens United, the 2010 decision allowing unlimited campaign spending by corporations and unions."
With the Court having no independent means of enforcing its decisions, its authority, power and legitimacy is due, in large part, to the public perception that it is not political and that its decisions adhere to legal precedents — a perception previously carefully cultivated and guarded by the Court. This new poll, and the reasonable assumption made by Liptak, merely underscores that the Court’s recent de-legitimatization in the eyes of the public is a function of its own political activism. And this bodes poorly for law and justice.
The good news is that Congress’ approval rating is a whopping 15% — which makes the Court’s approval rating look fabulous by comparison.