Friday, 24 June 2022

Confidence in U.S. Supreme Court Sinks to Historic Low

Confidence in U.S. Supreme Court Sinks to Historic Low | Gallop

According to the latest Gollop Poll, the damage the disastrous president, Donald Trump, did to American democracy continues to fester.

This time it is a dramatic collapse in the level of trust in the Supreme Court that Americans have, since Trump appointed overtly partisan Republican placemen to SCOTUS while in office. A flourishing democracy needs an independent judiciary, not an overtly partisan one, but SCOTUS is now expected to deliver verdicts demanded by the right-wing political fringe and religious fundamentalists, while ignoring the wishes and opinions of mainstream Americans. Consequently, the percentage of Americans who say they have a great deal or quite a lot of trust in SCOTUS has fallen to a new low of just 25%, an 11 percentage point fall in just the last year.

And this poll was taken before the leaking of the expected reversal of Roe v Wade, which will effectively make abortions illegal in almost all situations, despite the fact that almost 6 in 10 Americans support that right to abortion and do not want Roe v Wade to be overturned. The fact that the right-wing, religious fundamentalists that Trump inserted into SCOTUS as a reward for the political support he got from the evangelical Christian churches and far right fringe groups, were instrumental in delivering this verdict, if the leak proves to be correct, will further undermine confidence in the neutrality of SCOTUS, and deservedly so.

If SCOTUS can deliver an overtly fundamentalist Christian verdict in Roe v Wade, how can they be trusted to maintain the Establishment Clause of the Second Amendment and so retain Thomas Jefferson's "Wall of Separation" between church and state? Will we see Christian fundamentalists being give free licences to lie to American children by teaching them Bible literalism under the guise of history and science, at taxpayers' expense? We have already seen the willingness of Christian evangelicals to commit perjury in court to try to win the right to lie to children in science class, in the Kitzmiller vs Dover District School Board case.

The increasing polarisation of opinion over the trustworthiness of SCOTUS to deliver verdicts on behalf of all Americans, not just a minority, but politically powerful, factions, is shown by the last chart.

Here we see that while, Democrat and Independent voters' trust in SCOTUS fell by 17 and 15 percentage points in the last year to about half what it was in 2021, that of Republican voters rose by 2 percentage points! It seems Republicans increasingly believe they can trust SCOTUS to deliver verdicts they want, while non-Republicans voters increasingly realise they can't. But even so, only just under 4 in 10 Republicans believe they can trust SCOTUS!

In a healthy democracy, people of all political leanings should have confidence in the judiciary to rule in accordance with the constitution, not the political opinions of minorities, no matter how politically powerful they may be. If a substantial proportion of a society can't rely on the law to safeguard their interests and to support a peaceful, democratic political process, then it becomes hard to argue for politics and the ballot box to deliver political change and the society becomes increasingly politically unstable - just as we are now seeing in the USA after the disaster of a Trump administration.

Trump's tactic of divide and rule by politicising everything, even the response to a serious pandemic emergency, came back to bite him when he was rejected at the ballot box by the largest ever popular vote for a presidential candidate, but he has left a festering sore at the heart of American government in the shape of a partisan and untrustworthy SCOTUS which will continue to rot the judiciary from the head down, until the balance is restored.

[Update: Immediately after publishing this post, news came through that SCOTUS has overturned Roe v Wade, and reversed a 50-year-old right enjoyed by millions of American women, who are once again subjected to fundamantalist Christian laws, whether thay are Christian or not and whether they want to be, or not. A vociferous cabal of fundamentalist Christians has succeeded in taking away a fundamental right from, and imposing their religious view on, 50% of Americans, for the first time in American political history.]

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