Fifty-eight percent of Americans disapprove of the way SCOTUS is doing its job.
This article was originally published by Vanity Fair.
Supreme Court approval has fallen to a new low just 100 days after Roe v. Wade was overturned, indicating a decline in confidence in the nation’s highest court before it begins a new term.
According to a new Gallup poll, 47% of Americans said they have at least “fair” confidence in the judiciary, which is 20 percentage points less than two years ago. Meanwhile, 58% of Americans disapprove of the way SCOTUS is doing its job — a record high disapproval rating.
Last month, Chief Justice John Roberts defended the integrity of the court, telling the Washington Post: “Yes, all our opinions are open to criticism. In fact, our members do a great job of criticizing some opinions from time to time. But just because people disagree with the opinion, this is not a basis for criticizing the legitimacy of the court.”
Apart from the stormy decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson case, Americans may be experiencing a growing distrust of the court due to the recent investigation into the influence of the SCOTUS spouses. This record low approval rating was broken on the same day Ginny Thomas testified before a committee on January 6 that is investigating her involvement in spreading false claims of fraud in the 2020 presidential election — she is the wife of Judge Clarence Thomas.
Ethical questions have arisen around whether Judge Thomas should recuse himself when hearing Supreme Court cases related to the 2020 election; Jeannie Thomas said she “never spoke” with her husband about “any legal claims to the 2020 election, and she said her husband also”I didn’t know” about the exchange of text messages with Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows about the results of the 2020 elections. . At Saturday’s rally, former President Donald Trump called her a “great woman” after her testimony to the committee on January 6.
Given the rare attention to the inner workings of the country’s highest court, perhaps Thomas’ investigation has caused other Supreme Court justices to become more secretive about their spouses’ business dealings. Politico reported that just a year after Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s husband’s law firm publicly announced the opening of a law office in Washington, D.C., she redacted her husband’s place of work on her latest financial disclosure form, as well as his clients.
When Politico contacted Barrett’s husband, they received a response from a representative of the Supreme Court: “Judge Barrett complies with the Law on Ethics in government when filing financial disclosure reports.” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) tweeted that the response was “slippery” and that “the fact is that judges have recusal obligations that (a) apply to all federal judges and (b) EGA disclosures usually don’t get through. To refuse this is a tasteless trick.
Typically slippery SCOTUS response: “Justice Barrett complies with the Ethics in Government Act in filing financial disclosure reports.”
— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) September 30, 2022
Former Assistant Attorney General of the State of New York Tristan Snell also expressed concern about the lack of transparency in the work of the spouses of SCOTUS, tweeting: “SCOTUS needs a REAL code of ethics. Currently.”
BREAKING: Amy Coney Barrett did not disclose her husband’s legal work on a court ethics form.
This is after we learned that Clarence Thomas failed to disclose $700k of Ginni Thomas’s pay from the far-right Heritage Foundation.
SCOTUS needs a REAL code of ethics. Now.
— Tristan Snell (@TristanSnell) September 29, 2022
Earlier reports also noted that Chief Justice Roberts’ wife works as a lawyer for hire; although the Chief Justice redacted the names of her clients, sources said her client list included firms that did Supreme Court work.
The new judge of the court, Ketanji Brown Jackson, stated in the disclosure form that when she worked in lower courts, she did not indicate “the income from independent consultations that my spouse periodically receives from consultations on medical malpractice cases.” Her husband is the head of the Department of general surgery at Georgetown University’s MedStar Hospital—she also edited the names of his clients.