I haven’t seen many progressives thank the U.S. Supreme Court for its back-of-hand ruling against Texas’ wild idea that it could overturn election returns from other states. This case was the “big one,” according to President Donald J. Trump.
He was right, in an unexpected way. When it got brushed aside, his chances of getting relief from the Supremes on other suits became roughly zero.
You may recall, waaaaaaay back in October, when Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the High Court, the Left was apoplectic that Trump’s three appointees — Barrett joining Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch — would cement a conservative majority on the Supreme Court that would surely rubber stamp anything the President wanted to do.
That was a common belief.
While I am not an authority on the Supreme Court, I am impartial and did not think that would happen, for several reasons.
First, once seated, Justices owe their loyalty to the Constitution, not to the President.
Second, the longer Justices serve, the more they move to the Left, if they are going to move at all. A friend suggests that John F. Kennedy appointee Byron White, thought to be liberal, often sided with the conservatives on the court. He may be the exception that proves the rule.
Otherwise, starting back with Chief Justice Earl Warren and gliding up to Chief Justice John Roberts (who has been attacked by Trump for positions that strayed from the right wing), the movement generally is Left
While this is my observation, there is a chart from 538 that illustrates and explains the leftward drift.
Third, conservative Justices tend to believe that less interference from the court is better, they do not believe in writing new law from the bench, and generally give greater weight to states’ rights.
I can’t say this is true in every case, but it is true in most.
The notion that they would side with the President when he attacks the states is far fetched.
In the Texas case, Trump supporters are disappointed because they thought the Court would automatically lean toward their man.
They were wrong.
Progressives were surprised because they thought the Court would automatically lean toward the president.
They were wrong, too.
Some of you are mystified why I don’t share your Chicken Little fears that Democracy is falling. That’s because of my belief in the guard rails of the courts. Court orders were accepted by Trump, even when he hated them and sputtered like crazy on Twitter. His mad words did not matter. The Rule of Law remained supreme.
I may disagree with Sonia Sotomayor, or Clarence Thomas, on specific rulings — and I have — but I give them, and the other seven, the benefit of the doubt that they have come to their conclusions honestly, guided by their philosophical and legal beliefs, rather than by crass politics.
I may be wrong, but I have more trust in them than in the politicians who appointed them, oddly enough.