Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito responded to critics who question the legitimacy of the Supreme Court after a spate of rulings that countered the liberal agenda.

What is the background?

Democrats have been openly questioning the legitimacy of the court for years, most prominently after former President Donald Trump was able to appoint one-third of the court’s current justices.

That rhetoric reached a fever pitch earlier this year after the court ruled in favor of the Second Amendment, in the case of a New York law restricting concealed carry, and in favor of unborn lives and state rights, repealing Roe v. Wade.

What did Alito say?

In an interview at the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday, Alito directly rebuked those who question the Supreme Court’s legitimacy.

“Everybody in this country is free to disagree with our decisions,” he said. “Everybody is free to criticize our reasoning, and in strong terms. And that certainly is done in the media, in writings of law professors, and on social media.

“But to say the court is exhibiting lack of integrity is something quite different,” he added. “That goes to character.

“Someone also crosses an important line when they say that the court is acting in a way that is illegitimate,” Alito continued to say. “I don’t think that anybody in a position of authority should make that claim lightly. That is not just ordinary criticism. That is something very different.”

During the interview, Alito also condemned the leak of his opinion draft that indicated the court would overturn Roe.

“It was a grave betrayal of trust by somebody,” he said. “It was a shock, because nothing like that had happened in the past. It certainly changed the atmosphere at the court for the remainder of last term.

“The leak also made those of us who were thought to be in the majority in support of overruling Roe and Casey targets for assassination because it gave people a rational reason to think they could prevent that from happening by killing one of us,” he added.

Anything else?

Chief Justice John Roberts similarly condemned those questioning the court’s legitimacy for issuing opinions they do not like.

“The court has always decided controversial cases and decisions have always been subject to intense criticism, and that is entirely appropriate,” Roberts said last month.

“But I don’t understand the connection between the opinions people disagree with and the legitimacy of the Supreme Court,” he added.

Ironically, Justice Elena Kagan has expressed concern over the court’s legitimacy if the justices lose public support.

“I’m not talking about any particular decision or even any particular series of decisions, but if over time the court loses all connection with the public and with public sentiment, that’s a dangerous thing for a democracy,” she said in July, Reuters reported.

“Overall, the way the court retains its legitimacy and fosters public confidence is by acting like a court, is by doing the kinds of things that do not seem to people political or partisan,” she added.

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