Confounding Its Critics: The Supreme Court Issues A Line Of Inconveniently Non-Ideological Opinions

Fred Schilling, US Supreme CourtBelow is my column in The Hill on decisions issued by the Supreme Court in recent weeks and the way in which they’ve functioned as a retort to people who are calling for court packing or significant changes from the institution. As mentioned below, we hope to see additional ideological branches emerge and next week in some of the exceptional”large ticket” choices. However, the Court appears to get front-loaded a lineup of cases refuting the arguments it is dysfunctionally and hopelessly divided along ideological lines.  Todaythe Supreme Court issued two more nearly unanimous decisions (with only Justice Sotomayor concurring and dissenting in part in both conclusion ). The choices had been Terry v. United States and Greer v. United States.
Here is the pillar:

Truly, the court is supposedly so dysfunctionally split that several, such as Democratic leaders, who have called for sweeping changes — from packing the court with new justices into changing its voting principles or even making an alternative court.
That’s exactly why these weeks have frustrated individuals who insist that the court is a hopeless situation of rigid ideologues. While next week could well bring some welcomed ideological divisions, the court is not making it simple on its critics.
Liberal Justice Stephen Breyer lately chafed at the claim that the court is”conservative” and condemned the calls to pack it with a liberal majority. A liberal bunch,”Demand Justice,” reacted with billboard ads calling Breyer’s resignation and warned him that he was risking his legacy. But, Breyer looks favorably in judgment together with his conservative colleagues once he considers that to be correct.
In the latest choice, Borden v. United States, the lineup of justices was strikingly nonideological.
Last week, the decision in Van Buren v. United States has been a majority of 3 liberals and 3 conservatives. If that’s the case, the senior justice was Breyer; he imputed to his conservative colleague Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who wrote for Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, Gorsuch, Kagan and Brett Kavanaugh.  Though he was on the other side in Van Buren, Justice Thomas joined his liberal colleagues at Borden.
These decisions follow a litany of unanimous conclusions from the court, which appears to be sending out a message in the timing of the launch of its own opinions: The justices do not rule on cases to send messages to Congress, but they really do control what instances are approved and if those decisions are released. It’s hard not to see the last few weeks as a type of judicial”harrumph” into the ongoing calls for court packing. While we expect more ideological splits in a few upcoming cases, these circumstances reaffirm that they’re not so stiff or”hopelessly divided” as Allied leaders and other critics have implied.
Within a op-ed for The New York Times, the scientist Kent Greenfield argued that”the Supreme Court has become overly stern and unbalanced to trust it with choosing the most important issues of the day.” Greenfield involves the institution of a constitutional court that will strip the Supreme Court of their capability to rule on these questions because”that the Supreme Court needs a breather.”  That breather would last only 20 years — just enough time to shift the court’s bulk.
That fate may still expect the court. The telephone call to pack today’s seat was not about reforming but regarding rigging the institution. Former Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.)  Once tweeted,”If [Mitch McConnell] holds a vote in 2020, we pack the court in 2021. It’s that easy.”
Harvard professor Michael Klarman and many others have not been subtle about the necessity to pack the court to guarantee an immediate liberal majority. Klarman has stated the court must be changed to enact the Democrats’ sweeping agenda — and Democrats shouldn’t be concerned about Republicans reacting with their own court packing if they come back to power. Really, he explainedthe point of changing the system would be to guarantee that Republicans”will not win the next election.” Klarman declared that”that the Supreme Court could strike down what I just described,” therefore the court must be packaged in advance to allow the desired changes to occur.
The issue is that the court is not cooperating. Rather, consensus was breaking on a court that is supposed to be”too partisan and unbalanced to hope ” Apparentlyit has life in it as a working, moral body.
The justices will still continue to divide on some cases along ideological lines, particularly on constitutional cases. That’s because those are principled jurists who see core jurisprudential difficulties otherwise. Americans themselves are divided on issues which range from abortion to gun rights to race-based college admissions. 1 side is denounced as biased while the other is distinguished as educated.
Nevertheless, there have been numerous important cases involving constitutional problems where justices have spanned the ideological line.
Needless to say, truth is rarely a barrier for politicians or pundits, particularly when news outlets distort the true voting records of their justices. Additionally, President Biden has resisted the political orientation or principle (he once had as a senator) to endure for the court against his own celebration. Rather, he has produced a lopsided commission to appease the hard left. Yet even with the Democratic members and also an obliging media, the Democrats are facing a person that has been overwhelmingly oppose packing or changing the court. And the court is not making this simple by talking inconveniently as you can. Both politicians and pundits are in precisely exactly the exact same position since the coroner who was about to perform an autopsy a couple years back when the dead guy began to snore. It’s tough to dismiss. Before we perform an autopsy on an still surviving judicial procedure, the general public may want to follow the court instead of its critics.
Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can find his updates on Twitter @JonathanTurley.