The Supreme Court’s authority is eroded by the perception it is influenced by politics, according to Catholic University of America professor Matthew Green.
“When elected officials criticize the court, there is the possibility of damaging the court’s reputation, which may, in turn, undermine citizens’ faith in the rule of law,”
Until recently, the Supreme Court was one of the few government institutions the public trusted, Green said. Yet Biden is not the first leader to denounce the court, the politics professor added, citing former President Barack Obama’s 2010 State of the Union address in which he disparaged Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Obama’s complaints prompted Justice Samuel Alito, the author of last month’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization majority opinion, to shake his head and say, “Not true.”
For Green, former President George H.W. Bush additionally faulted the Supreme Court for deciding in 1989 that banning the burning of the American flag was unconstitutional, and Franklin D. Roosevelt knocked it in the 1930s for blocking his New Deal.
“Presidents also have to be cautious about creating an expectation that they can undo court decisions they disagree with,” he said.
That is one of the challenges currently confronting Biden as he contends with Democrats dealing with the Dobbs decision. Democrats are rankled by the White House’s inaction regarding protecting abortion and contraceptive access despite Alito’s draft opinion being leaked to the press in May.
For Republican-turned-independent political analyst Dan Schnur, now with the University of Southern California, it should not be surprising that the White House and Supreme Court relationship had “deteriorated” too “since everything else in the world has become more partisan and more polarized.”
“This is the first time in 90 years that the court has leaned conservative, so it’s even less surprising that a Democratic president is under so much pressure to attack,” he said.
Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson was adamant the Supreme Court was “harming” people with its Dobbs decision, making it Biden’s “responsibility” as head of a co-equal branch of government “to try to remedy that.”