The Supreme Court is more conservative than ever almost a century. The new term begins today, and by June next year, when the term ends, Americans could finally understand what that means. The court’s public opinion is already at a record low after the court put a strict abortion law into effect in Texas in early September. Now the judges are preparing for the court hearing first major gun law case since 2010 as well as a case The future of abortion in the US Either case could lead to decisions far more extreme than most Americans want.
In the past, the desire to preserve the court’s apolitical reputation has kept judges from straying too far from public opinion. That could happen again – in fact, Chief Justice John Roberts has so far proven remarkably adept at making decisions that protect the court’s reputation, and that are often depicted as more moderate and mainstream than they really are.
On this term, however, the other Conservative judges might agree to make a very public right turn. Neither the extension of gun rights nor the repeal of Roe v. Wade would be popular, but the court is considering both – a sign of how conservative it has already become. The question now is whether the risk of backlash is sufficient to deter the conservative majority from overthrowing Roe in an election year, for example.
“The judges are clearly aware of the public attitude towards the court,” said Lawrence Tree, Professor of Political Science at Ohio State University. “But that’s just a consideration for the judges, and not necessarily the most important – especially on issues like abortion or gun rights where they may have strong personal preferences about getting the result right.”
The judges are already entering the term of office with mixed criticism from the public. A survey conducted by Marquette University Law School in September found that only 49 percent of Americans agreed with the court, up from 60 percent just a year earlier. A Gallup poll conducted in September found a similar decline: only 40 percent of U.S. adults agreed with the court, up from 53 percent a year earlier. Gallup says a majority (53 percent) of US adults now disapprove of the way the court does its job.