Serwer’s response to his public critic Sam Alito is absolutely A+ content:
Last month, Justice Samuel Alito insisted that the Supreme Court’s critics are wrong. The Court is not “a dangerous cabal” that is “deciding important issues in a novel, secretive, improper way, in the middle of the night, hidden from public view,” he said. Reading aloud from a piece I wrote in the aftermath of the Court’s recent ruling on an abortion law, Alito insisted that it was “false and inflammatory” to say that the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision had been nullified in Texas.
Alito’s speech perfectly encapsulated the new imperious attitude of the Court’s right-wing majority, which wants to act politically without being seen as political, and expects the public to silently acquiesce to its every directive without scrutiny, criticism, or protest. (As if oblivious to the irony, Alito’s office set ground rules barring media outlets from transcribing or broadcasting in full the speech at the University of Notre Dame, in which he delivered his complaint.)
Last month, that conservative majority allowed Texas’s most recent restrictions on abortion to go into effect. Without exceptions for rape and incest, the Texas law bars abortions after six weeks, before most women know they are pregnant, and deputizes citizens to sue those who “enable” abortions after that period for a $10,000 bounty. At midnight on the day after the law took effect, the Republican appointees on the Court, except for Chief Justice John Roberts, insisted that a procedural scheme adopted by anti-abortion activists for the precise purpose of avoiding judicial review had tied their hands.
The rank dishonesty and arrogance of Alito’s speech at Notre Dame are symptoms of the conservative majority’s unchecked power on the Court, and the entitlement that flows from having no one around you who can tell you what you sound like. It is not simply enough for the right-wing justices to have this power; Alito insists that the peasantry be silent about how they use it, and acquiesce not only to their delusions of impartiality but to their mischaracterization of verifiable facts. These are imperious demands for submission from someone who is meant to be a public servant.
The justices’ claims to be apolitical are belied by the decades of advocacy by the conservative legal movement and oceans of cash that it has spent to put them on the Court. They are belied by the trajectory of their own careers, which they pursued with the desperate ambition of being elevated to the Court. And they are belied by their own actions on the Court, despite their insincere, performative testimonies about judicial restraint.
During his speech, Alito quipped that “journalists may think we can dash off an opinion the way they dash off articles.”
On the contrary. Journalists have to do their own work. I don’t have a hand-picked team of law clerks to do the heavy lifting for me, and I am not shielded from my own errors of fact and judgment by a lifetime appointment. If Alito wants the public to see the Court as apolitical, he should try meeting that standard, instead of lecturing others for not blinding themselves to the obvious.
Lots of other good stuff there about how deferentially the elite media treats the Court, and how indefensible that is as the Court becomes increasingly aggressive about imposing its policy preferences while telling increasingly angry and desperate lies to the public about it.