The U.S. Supreme Court is a vital component of the balance of power in the American government—one built on checks and balances. Its judicial power of review can declare unconstitutional laws enacted by Congress and executive actions taken by the President of the United States.

 

Arguably, this power makes the Court the most important of our three branches of government, and that is why the Court must fulfill its fundamental duty to provide equal justice under the law and to serve as honorable guardians of our Constitution.

 

That was not always the case.

 

Beginning with its creation in 1789, the Court resided in the basement of the nation’s Capitol Building (where it remained until the mid-19th century), finding the judicial fortitude to declare only two federal laws unconstitutional. But with the advent of the Civil War and the expansion of the West—both of which wrought violence on the nation’s soil and led to a host of laws designed to serve the interests of the wealthy and maintain the powerlessness of the poor—the Court found itself increasingly called upon to decide which laws were constitutional and which were not.

 

These advances enhanced the Court’s power, and when any institution accrues power, it becomes more assertive in its use.

 

Between 1994 and 2002, the Court declared 32 federal laws, in whole or part, unconstitutional.

 

In the Federalists Papers, Alexander Hamilton said this assertion of power by the Court would serve, not thwart, the interests of Democracy. Hamilton strongly believed that the Constitution represented the absolute will of the people while laws, both federal and state laws, merely represented the people’s temporary will through fallible legislators.

 

Hamilton was correct, but the constitutional scholar could not have foreseen, in his wildest imagination, the Court’s decision-making in Bush v. Gore—a political decision that decided the presidential race in 2000 between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore.

 

Florida’s Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris, on November 26, 2000, declared Bush the winner by a 537-vote margin before all the votes on a recount had been counted. Gore took the issue to the Florida Supreme Court, which, on December 8, 2000, declared that the recount had to continue.

 

Bush immediately appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which, on December 9, ordered the recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court to be halted until it could hear the case. On December 11, the Court heard oral arguments in the case and the very next day, in a 5-4 decision, overturned the recount decision by the Florida Supreme Court.

 

The decision effectively gave the presidency to Bush. The five justices voting in favor of Bush were Republican appointees, and the four justices voting in favor of Gore were Democrat appointees.

 

That December in 2000 is when the Supreme Court visibly became a political institution whose purpose is to serve not the Constitution nor the people but the biddings of the political interests of the forces behind their appointments, most notably, the Federalist Society and other conservative “dark money” groups.

 

Understandably, trust in the Court by the American people has plummeted from a nearly 70 percent rating in 2001 to 41 percent in 2023.

 

Today, one media investigative report after another discloses that two justices (Thomas and Alito) have received special favors from billionaires friends that include expensive gifts, luxurious trips to resorts around the globe on yachts and private jets, mortgages paid on the homes of family members, RVs bought personal travel, and other things not disclosed. The wives of these same two justices have engaged in lunatic-fringe insurrection behavior supporting a violent overthrow of the government.

 

Yet neither justice will recuse themselves from cases dealing with issues connected to anyone or anything associated with their special privileges or lunatic political behavior.

 

The Court recently entertained the argument that the President of the United States would enjoy absolute immunity if they ordered the assassination of political rivals so long as they determined it was an “official act.”

 

The fact that such an argument could be made under any circumstances in the nation’s highest Court is disturbing and dangerous.

 

The nation’s legal system, in conjunction with the American people, await the Court’s decision on how much, if any, immunity an American president enjoys for committing criminal wrongdoing while in office. One presidential candidate is already campaigning on a platform of revenge against his political rivals, his intention to act as a dictator and undo the underpinnings of this nation’s Democracy.

 

Would this Supreme Court stop such a President?

 

Based on its actions and recent statements by some of the Justices, we have every reason to fear that the Court would help usher in an authoritarian rule of government, the rule of law, the Constitution, and the people be damned.