On Friday, June 7, 2024, Newsweek reported that retired Judge David S. Tatel quit his role as a federal appeals court judge because he had growing concerns about the principles and conduct of the U.S. Supreme Court.

In his upcoming memoir titled “Vision: A Memoir of Blindness and Justice,” Judge Tatel wrote that he decided to retire from his nearly 30-year position on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit due to the Supreme Court’s seeming disregard for important judicial guidelines. He stepped down from his post in January 2024.

Tatel, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, said it was difficult for him to follow Supreme Court rulings that overturned precedent when he felt the high court was abandoning traditions of neutral judging. He warned that judging cases based on a preexisting agenda rather than legal texts and past decisions undermines public trust in the justice system.

Tatel’s resignation comes at a time when the Supreme Court is facing increased scrutiny. In recent years, conservatives hold a 6-3 majority on the court after three Trump-appointed justices. Landmark decisions like overturning Roe v. Wade in Dobbs in June 2022 have been criticized for ignoring precedent. Approval ratings for the Supreme Court have declined, with a Gallup poll in September showing only 41% of Americans approve of the job the court is doing.

Other controversies have also erupted. In 2021, a photograph surfaced of an inverted American flag hanging outside Justice Samuel Alito’s house just days before Biden’s inauguration, raising optics concerns. More recently, a federal judge criticized any jurist flying that flag under those circumstances. Some state judges have additionally accused the modern Supreme Court of selectively choosing facts to arrive at preferred outcomes.

As the Supreme Court considers pending cases on abortion pills and Trump documents, Tatel’s memoir marking his retirement serves as a warning about the damage being done to the judiciary’s reputation and independence through recent rulings and ethical issues. With his comments, Tatel joins a growing chorus of judges expressing displeasure over the direction of the nation’s highest court.



Source: Newsweek