Faith in the courts is on life support in America.
On Thursday, we heard from Justice Department officials about election conspiracies being debunked in court across the country — decisions that a significant portion of our citizens on the right of the political spectrum reject.
On the same day, the United States Supreme Court issued rulings undermining gun control rights and Miranda’s rights, angering left-wing activists.
And on Friday the most political decision in the history of our country, Dobbs vs. Jacksoncanceled Roe vs. Wade.
For decades, trust in the legislative and executive branches of government has seen confidence in their ability to govern erode. Bitter partisanship and political campaigning have taken their toll on America and its confidence in its government.
But the judiciary has long been the only branch above politics.
Throughout our country’s history, the courts have enjoyed a respect reserved for no other subset of government. They are the arbiters of truth, the hallowed halls of justice, a blindfolded statue holding scales and a sword.
Even their setting and attire conveyed a separation from the ugly politics in which other branches wallow. From the black-robed dais to the crest behind the bench.
Joseph Campbell, the eminent scholar of comparative mythology, noted that when a “judge walks into the room and everyone stands up, you don’t stand up to that guy, you stand up to the robe he door and the role he is going to play. What makes him worthy of this role is his integrity, as a representative of the principles of this role, and not a group of prejudices of his own.
But that’s exactly where we are now.
Americans on both sides of the political aisle believe judges are now entering courtrooms with preconceived outcomes. They believe that a fair and just trial is not possible. They believe that the courts, especially the highest courts of appeal, contain only political hacks isolated from elections and popular votes.
It’s hard to blame them.
For decades, Democrats and Republicans have used the courts as a political punching bag. Republicans in particular have decried “militant justices” while simultaneously working to appoint their own nationwide.
In four years, President Donald Trump has appointed two-thirds the number of justices in four years compared to either of his immediate predecessors during their eight-year term. Trump has appointed one fewer justice than Obama to the Court of Appeals and one more to the all-important Supreme Court. Of course, it was on this seat that things really took off.
When U.S. Senate Republicans refused to hold hearings, let alone vote to confirm, Merrick Garland (now U.S. Attorney General) on the Supreme Court several months before a presidential election, they put the imprimatur of partisanship on the nomination process. They etched it in steel when they reversed course to pass Judge Amy Coney Barrett days before the next presidential election.
READ: Colorado Sun Opinion Columnists.
Unfortunately, the judges seem to play right into the assumption. I argued that judges must respect Judge Antonin Scalia’s precept that “the judge who always likes the results he achieves is a bad judge”.
The decision of the current Supreme Court of the United States to overturn 50 years of precedent and remove a constitutional right, for the first time in its history, is nothing but politics. Whatever Judge Samuel Alito says, this is not a situation similar to Brown v. Board of Education. Rather, it is the political end he has been seeking for decades.
Alito’s decision will have a significant and lasting impact on our democracy regardless of its effect on abortion laws.
America is likely to rock political turmoil in the weeks, months, years and decades to come. Sadly, it seems that we will no longer have the unshakeable pillars of justice to keep us moored in the storm.
Mario Nicolais is a lawyer and columnist who writes about law enforcement, the justice system, health care and public policy. Follow him on Twitter: @MarioNicolaiEsq
The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the editorial staff. Read our Ethics Policy to learn more about The Sun’s Opinion Policy and submit articles, suggest authors or give feedback to [email protected]