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The Supreme Court Is the Last Properly Functioning Institution in America

In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court ruled states cannot use Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to kick former President Donald Trump off state ballots over his alleged “insurrectionist” actions on Jan. 6, 2021.

Learning that state officials aren’t empowered to simply toss leading presidential candidates off ballots came as a great surprise to many incredulous left-wingers. Once you’ve convinced yourself Trump led a Hitlerian putsch that nearly overthrew democracy, every crackpot legal theory aimed at stopping him sounds not only morally justified but legally sound.Just last week, progressives were fuming that the Supreme Court hasn’t expedited Trump’s immunity claims to fit with President Joe Biden’s campaign schedule.The deeper problem, though, is that the Left — but, really, anyone who is Trump-obsessed — can’t seem to comprehend the notion of neutrality in law or principle. Here, for instance, is how the Associated Press framed the court’s decision: “Supreme Court restores Trump to ballot, rejecting state attempts to hold him accountable for attack on Capitol in 2021.”That is, most definitely, not what happened. SCOTUS ruled on the constitutional question. Whether Colorado thinks it’s holding Trump accountable — and the contention that he engaged in “insurrection” is, let’s just say, highly debatable — is another story.In any event, the case is another reminder that the Supreme Court is perhaps the only functioning institution of government. By “functioning,” of course, I don’t mean the court “moves the country forward,” “upholds democracy,” “keeps us safe,” or any of the other twaddle leftists insist constitutes good governance. I mean a court majority takes its constitutional mandate, as written, seriously.No, SCOTUS doesn’t get every case right. Sometimes, led by the chief justice, it is perplexingly Solomonic. But it is wrong within the contours of normal. Congress, on the other hand, has handed its responsibilities on war, spending and governing to the executive branch. At this point, we are far more likely to see a congressman dunking on someone on social media than acting to defend the document he swore to uphold.Worse, Democrats are often cheerleaders for more executive abuse. The White House, also abnormally, feels unfettered in regulating the economy and our lives with no oversight from the legislative branch or voters. Biden openly ignores the court. The most obvious example is the unconstitutional student loan “forgiveness” plan, a transparent effort to bribe younger voters.Sure, the Colorado ballot case was so weak that even Justice Sonia Sotomayor couldn’t go along with Democrats. That’s rare. If it weren’t for originalists (for lack of a better word), the country would have been plunged into chaos long ago, and not only on the political front.In July 2020, the Supreme Court’s approval rating stood at 58 percent. A few months earlier, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer threatened justices with a “whirlwind” if they ignored the will of the Democratic Party. Democrats have been ratcheting up their attacks on the court since former President Barack Obama used his State of the Union to publicly castigate it upholding the First Amendment.Since that time, a concerted project among donors, politicians and major media organizations to smear and delegitimize the high court has been underway. It’s working. As of the last poll taken, the court’s approval rating had fallen to 41% and its disapproval was at 58%, most of the change driven by left-wing voters.Most of the justices have been impressively resistant to the pressures of politics. The court, obviously, was conceived to be impervious to the vagaries of public opinion. This is an upsetting notion for people like Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), one of the nation’s leading conspiracy theorists, who believes low poll numbers are proof of a legitimacy problem. What, one wonders, does that say about the 12% approval of Congress?Every time the Left suffers a setback at SCOTUS, they accuse justices with long histories of consistent judicial philosophy of corruption. When the conservatives lose — as they did recently with North Carolina redistricting and the case covering gender dysphoria under disability laws — the media act like it is some huge surprise that the court didn’t act reflexively partisan. This, like so many of the contemporary Left’s accusations, is just projection.The reason the Left has a poor record in front of the court — and the trend goes back to Obama’s historic string of losses — isn’t that SCOTUS is bought. It’s that the contemporary Left’s vision of governance conflicts with the Constitution. If the Left doesn’t destroy the court, it is likely blue states will begin ignoring it.But for now, SCOTUS remains perhaps the last institutional bulwark against lawlessness and nuttery.

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David Harsanyi

David Harsanyi is a senior writer at National Review and author of "Eurotrash: Why America Must Reject the Failed Ideas of a Dying Continent."

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One Comment

  1. POSSIBLY, HE JURY IS STILL OUT. THEY HAVE A FEW CASES TO DECIDE YET. IF NEWS OF JUSTICE Sotomayor HEALTH DECLINE ARE CORRECT POTUS TRUMP WILL HAVE ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO ADD A TRUE FOLLOWER OF THE CONSTITUTION TO THE SCOTUS.

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