Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts defended the court from attacks on its legitimacy.
Speaking to jurists at the 10th Circuit Bench and Bar Conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Roberts pointed out that the nation’s highest court has always handled controversial cases, and decided some cases that provoked strong reactions from the public. However, Roberts pushed back on recent attacks against the legitimacy of the court itself, saying that disagreeing with an opinion on a controversial issue does not call into question the legitimacy of the court.
“The court has always decided controversial cases and decisions always have been subject to intense criticism and that is entirely appropriate,” Roberts told attendees at the conference, via the New York Post. “But I don’t understand the connection between the opinions people disagree with and the legitimacy of the Supreme Court.”
“Yes, all of our opinions are open to criticism,” he added, according to The Washington Post. “In fact, our members do a great job of criticizing some opinions from time to time. But simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for criticizing the legitimacy of the court.”
Roberts pointed out that the distinct purpose of the Supreme Court is to interpret the law without regard to political opinions or concerns. “That role doesn’t change simply because people disagree with this opinion or that opinion or with a particular mode of jurisprudence,” he said.
The Supreme Court took up a number of controversial cases and handed down several controversial decisions during its term earlier this year. In June, the court ruled that state-level restrictions on concealed carrying firearms are unconstitutional, in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen; then, the court ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade and giving control of abortion back to the states; finally, the court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency does not have the authority to set emissions caps on coal plants in West Virginia v. The Environmental Protection Agency.
Democrats and left-wing activists responded to those three rulings, especially the Dobbs decision, by slandering the court as “extremist” and saying the court “set a torch” to its legitimacy, and calling for it to be reformed or for more justices to be put onto the bench.
Roberts continued, warning about the dangers of allowing politics into the judiciary. “If the court doesn’t retain its legitimate function of interpreting the constitution, I’m not sure who would take up that mantle,” he said, via the Associated Press. “You don’t want the political branches telling you what the law is, and you don’t want public opinion to be the guide of what the appropriate decision is.”
Roberts’ comments come after Vice President Kamala Harris attacked the legitimacy of the Supreme Court in reaction to the Court’s decision in Dobbs.
“I think this is an activist court,” Harris told Chuck Todd in a clip of an interview with NBC News’ “Meet the Press” Friday. “We had an established right for almost half a century [abortion]… And this court took that constitutional right away, and we are suffering as a nation because of it. That causes me great concern about the integrity of the court overall.”