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It’s hard to imagine an uglier scenario for Supreme Court judges as they move toward the conclusion of their highly controversial term.
A California man has been charged with the charges of killing one of them. The Congressional committee investigating the Capitol insurrection wants to interview another’s spouse. Law enforcement officers located outside have isolated protesters singing in the houses of the judges. Its majestic marble workplace, which promises “Equality of Justice Under the Law,” is off-limits to the public, surrounded by a high-security fence.
And tensions are also high inside, as the court deals with the impressive leak of a full draft opinion that would nullify Roe against Wadethe guarantee of the right to abortion for almost 50 years that has become the ultimate symbol of the political struggle for membership in the court.
“The combination of challenges and threats facing the court at one time is unprecedented in recent history,” said Gregory G. Garre, who regularly debates in the Supreme Court and was President George W’s attorney general. Bush. “In this sense, the metal fence surrounding the track symbolizes the challenges it faces.”
Columbia University law professor David Pozen adds: short “.
Every day seems to lead to a new controversy for the court, and on Thursday there were additional revelations about Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of the court’s oldest member, Judge Clarence Thomas.
Ginni Thomas corresponded with John Eastman, sources in the January 6 House investigation said
The Washington Post reported that the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack is examining email correspondence between Ginni Thomas and attorney John Eastman, who played a key role in the efforts. to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to block Joe Biden’s The Victory certification.
Eastman, a former secretary of Thomas, was an advocate of bringing electoral issues to the high court in a last-ditch effort to reverse the results of President Donald Trump’s defeat. In a statement on Thursday, he acknowledged correspondence with Ginni Thomas about the effort, but said there was nothing inappropriate.
“I can categorically confirm that at no time did I discuss with Mrs. Thomas or Judge Thomas any matter pending or likely to be brought before the Court,” Eastman said in a statement. “We have never participated in these discussions, we would not participate in these discussions and we did not do so in December 2020 or at any other time.”
Eastman wrote that he had told another lawyer involved in the effort to overturn the election results that he understood there had been heated exchanges between judges over whether to accept an election challenge. But Eastman said it was not based on inside information about the court’s private conferences, but on a low-source report from the Conservative media. The report has been harshly criticized.
Ginni Thomas told a Conservative media on Thursday that he would comply with the committee’s request for information. “I can’t wait to clear up misconceptions. I’m really looking forward to talking to them,” Thomas told the Daily Caller.
Ginni Thomas’ efforts – emailing former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about legal challenges to election results, pressuring members of the Arizona legislature for similar purposes – have led to repeated calls to her husband to withdraw from any case related to the previous election. the court.
Ginni Thomas apologizes to her husband’s Supreme Court clerks following the Capitol riots
The Supreme Court did not address any of the challenges filed by Trump’s lawyers and advocates. But Thomas only disagreed when the court rejected Trump’s request to protect some White House documents from the Jan. 6 committee.
Threats to judges have been made clear recently. A California man accused of conspiring to assassinate Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh has been charged this week by a grand federal jury with a charge of attempting to kill a U.S. judge. Nicholas Roske appeared at the Maryland courthouse on June 9 around 1 a.m. with a handgun, theft tools and 37 rounds of ammunition, according to the indictment.
After texting her sister about her plans, she persuaded Roske to call 911 and surrender, officials said. Roske faces a possible life sentence. Kavanaugh and his family were at home at the time of Roske’s planned attack.
Pozen points out that this is not the first time that justice has been threatened by the polarizing issue of abortion. Judge Harry Blackmun, who wrote the Roe The decision, he received regular death threats, Pozen said, and years later a bullet pierced the window of Blackmun’s apartment in Virginia when he and his wife were at home. No one was injured and the FBI later determined that it was probably a random incident.
Even before the incident at Kavanaugh’s home, the Senate passed legislation to ensure the safety of the families of Supreme Court judges. Lawmakers were responding to concerns about the proliferation of protests outside judges’ homes following the leak of the draft opinion earlier this spring. This week, the House passed the bill and sent it to President Biden.
The clamor for the court comes at the precise moment that it wants to project a unified front, or at least a collegiate one. Instead, the court seems “deeply uneasy,” in the words of Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe.
In the coming weeks, he will issue decisions in one of the most controversial terms in recent years. As a result of a conservative super-majority of six judges, he could make major moves.
Liberals like Tribe and ACLU legal director David Cole said the court has raised some of its own issues.
“He has a discretionary record, but in his first full term as the new court he agreed to rule on abortion, carrying weapons in public, climate change and state support for religion,” Cole said. “At least for now, caution has not been the court’s motto. Instead, it has chosen to flex its new conservative muscle, and most likely to fulfill Trump’s promise to revoke it. Roe against Wade. This can only contribute to the appearance and reality of a politicized court. “
Conservatives respond that these concerns about the legitimacy of the court are simply a code to protect liberal results such as Roe that the right has fought for years to overthrow itself.
As usual, the court has said almost nothing about the controversy surrounding him. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. he denounced the leaking of the draft opinion on abortion and said the court was conducting an investigation into how it happened.
But the Supreme Court does not respond as other institutions do. It is made up of nine people confirmed for their vital appointments by the Senate, and the other judges receive no orders from Roberts or anyone else.
“The head of justice is facing a huge challenge,” Garre said. “He is the nominal head of the court, but he has little authority to act on his own.” Garre was a secretary to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who “used to refer to the Chief Justice’s job as a cat shepherd.”
Some judges have ruled on their own in public appearances. Thomas and Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., in the speeches after the leak, denounced him and indicated that he had passed bill to the trust between the judges. They missed the opportunity to talk about their colleagues as respected friends who have learned to put aside their disagreements.
Clarence Thomas says the Supreme Court leak has eroded confidence in the institution
Thomas, in particular, seemed to desire the days before the present court. “We actually trusted each other,” Thomas said in a Dallas appearance. “We could have been a dysfunctional family, but we were a family.”
So it was a bit of a surprise on Thursday when it was Liberal Judge Sonia Sotomayor who put on a cheerful, upbeat face in an appearance before a convention of the American Constitution Society, a liberal legal group.
Sotomayor said the court had a chance to pave the way for “regaining public confidence” in the institutions. In an interview with Tiffany Wright, a former secretary, she was not asked or referred to the leaked opinion or the upcoming list of decisions that would likely go against her and the other two Liberals in court.
He did his best to praise her relationship with Thomas. “I suspect I disagreed with him more than any other justice,” he told the group, walking among the attendees and answering questions. But he said he was a man who “deeply cares about the court as an institution, about the people who work there.”
Although she criticized in an opinion last week the “restless and newly formed court” with a desire to change, Sotomayor seemed determined to repress the assembled liberals.
When asked why he doesn’t lose hope, he said, “I don’t think you have a choice, neither do you.”
When she loses, Sotomayor said, she feels sorry for herself and then is ready for another round. “Let’s fight,” he said.