On Saturday, July 6, 2024, The Washington Post reported that the Supreme Court’s legitimacy is facing a crisis as the justices have been buffeted by new ethics allegations that have stoked questions from critics about their impartiality. The report comes as the court’s conservative supermajority has issued blockbuster rulings that have pushed the law sharply to the right, leading to concerns that the court is becoming increasingly partisan.

According to the report, the court’s defenders, mostly conservatives, have dismissed the concerns as griping from liberals who disagree with the court’s decisions. However, a recent Associated Press-NORC poll has shown that nearly 4 in 10 respondents have hardly any confidence in the court, and 7 in 10 believe that the justices’ decisions are motivated by ideology, not fairness and impartiality.

The report highlights several instances of ethics controversies involving the justices, including Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. Thomas has faced calls to recuse himself from certain high-profile cases due to his wife’s political activities, while Alito has been criticized for flying an upside-down American flag at his home and for his wife’s comments disparaging Trump and Republicans.

The report also mentions a recent incident where a liberal activist secretly recorded Alito and his wife answering politically leading questions, and released the recording on social media. The activist, who was posing as a Catholic conservative, asked Alito about his views on the nation’s polarized politics, and Alito was heard saying that “one side or the other is going to win.”

In addition, the report notes that the court’s Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has refused to meet with Democratic senators to discuss ethics, citing the separation of powers and the need for judicial independence.

The report highlights that the ethics controversies have led to calls for action on ethics legislation, with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) attempting to pass a bill codifying a code of conduct for the Supreme Court. However, the effort was scuttled by Republicans who opposed the bill.

The report also notes that some experts believe that the push for ethics overhaul is a political effort by Democrats to derail a court that has handed conservatives a string of major victories. However, others argue that the court needs to embrace an ethics overhaul to help reassure the public fully.

Overall, the report suggests that the Supreme Court’s legitimacy is facing a crisis due to ethics controversies surrounding the justices and that there are concerns about the court’s impartiality and partisanship.



Source: The Washington Post