The Supreme Court, secrecy and public trust

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A demonstrator places a sign on the anti-scaling fence outside of the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday, May 5, 2022 in Washington. A draft opinion suggests the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a Politico report released Monday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A demonstrator places a sign on the anti-scaling fence outside of the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday, May 5, 2022 in Washington. A draft opinion suggests the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a Politico report released Monday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Last week’s leaked draft majority opinion potentially overturning Roe v. Wade has shaken confidence in the Supreme Court. Polls show that public trust in the high court has been eroding in recent years, and according to Gallup, less than 50% of both Republicans and Democrats have a ‘fair amount of confidence’ in the institution.

Politicization and recent reports of ethical lapses, like Justice Thomas’ refusal to recuse himself on cases related to his wife’s work, may in part explain the declining support. Concerns have also been raised about the performative and often hostile nomination process and the increasing use of the shadow docket, in which rulings are made without oral hearings.

This hour, we examine the state of the Supreme Court, the secrecy in which it operates, and increasing questions about its legitimacy in the eyes of the public.

Guests

Joan Biskupic, CNN legal analyst and Supreme Court biographer. Her most recent book is The Chief: The Life and Turbulent Times of John Roberts. @joanbiskupic

Leah Litman, Assistant professor at University of Michigan law school and co-host Strict Scrutiny. She clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy. @leahlitman

Craig Green,  Temple University law professor

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CNN, Behind the scenes at the secretive Supreme Court – “Among the issues: that the justices often issue late-night orders with no recorded votes or explanation; that they keep secret certain procedural rules related to when cases are accepted for review; and that they lack a formal code of ethics and fail to explain recusals and potential conflicts of interest.”

Washington Post, Alito’s aggressive ruling would reach way beyond Roe – “…the opinion by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. adopted such an aggressively maximalist position, not only giving states extraordinary leeway to prohibit abortion but also implicitly inviting a flurry of challenges to other precedents, including cases protecting contraception and LGBTQ civil rights.”

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