Perhaps the biggest obstacle to Supreme Court reform, such as adding new justices, stripping its jurisdiction from certain laws, or abolishing judicial review entirely (as I argued here), is its relative legitimacy. Most Americans are taught in school that the Court is a key part of the American political system, and it has hitherto escaped the mass condemnation that has engulfed Congress, where approval registers about 17 percent. As of mid-2021, approval of the Court registered about 60 percent, likely thanks to its legalization of gay marriage in 2015, and the lingering glow of the heroic Warren Court decisions striking down Jim Crow apartheid.
But it seems the Court’s decision to strike down Roe v. Wade has brought it down into the toilet of unpopularity, along with the rest of the American government. The same pollster from 2021, Marquette University, found approval of the Court falling to just 38 percent immediately after the Dobbs decision.
On the Court reform question specifically, a recent Data for Progress poll of likely voters also found a substantial majority in favor of limits to the Court’s power. It found 54 percent in favor of the idea that “The Supreme Court should not be able to override settled precedent and public opinion to make decisions about the law of the land. The Court needs more limitations on its authority so it doesn’t overstep its power,” while just 34 percent disagreed.
Democrats ought to seize this opportunity.
We can talk about how to seize said opportunity and the article does. But the bigger issue is that Alito and Friends want to rule by extremist fiat and Americans just aren’t going to put up with it. What we haven’t really figured out yet is how to reverse this. Sure, Dobbs might lead to Democrats narrowly holding on to Congress and that’s important but that’s not exactly a huge step to controlling the Court’s power either. So there’s a lot of work to do. But the Court has completely brought this upon itself. Let them reap what they sow.