A majority of the Justices on the increasingly unpopular Supreme Court disregards settled precedent -- again -- when eliminating privacy protections

In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a majority of Supreme Court Justices cast aside 50 years of precedent that guaranteed women’s right to make their healthcare and family-planning decisions for themselves. For the past 5 decades, courts around the country have reaffirmed that the Constitution enshrines privacy, including women’s bodily autonomy, as among the important civil rights and civil liberties to be protected. By overturning the longstanding precedent of Roe v. Wade -- in defiance of the axiomatic stare decisis doctrine -- this same majority of Supreme Court Justices evidently advances the efforts to limit key civil rights and civil liberties. Before Dobbs, for example, a majority of Supreme Court Justices in Shelby County v. Holder rendered the Voting Rights Act largely ineffective as a practical matter.

Notably, a clear majority of people across the country disapproved of the Supreme Court before the opinion issued by a majority of the Supreme Court Justices in Dobbs. The broad-based disapproval of the Supreme Court will likely increase now because nearly two-thirds of the public opposed the overruling of Roe even before it happened and, moreover, given the reliance in Dobbs on so-called tradition that historically has entrenched inequality. The opinion by a majority of Supreme Court Justices in Dobbs and the increasing unpopularity of the Supreme Court should not be surprising given how the Supreme Court has been shaped over the past several decades.

The majority of Justices now on the Supreme Court have been nominated by a President who lost the popular vote; the antiquated process called the Electoral College selected those election losers for the nation’s highest office nonetheless. This same majority of Justices has been confirmed and seated on the Supreme Court by the United States Senate that also does not reflect the democratic will; small and sparsely populated States such as Wyoming -- which has a population of approximately 580,000 -- have 2 Senators just like large and densely populated States such as California -- which has a population of approximately 39,350,000. In fact, Senators were not even elected until the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1912. In any event, Democratic Senators represent approximately 40,000,000 more people than Republican Senators despite there being equal numbers of Democratic and Republican Senators in the Senate.

The integrity of the nation’s legal system and the rule of law require a Supreme Court that has legitimacy and, furthermore, that responsibly decides cases in the public interest -- consistent with core principles and prevailing values. The majority opinion in Dobbs, like in Shelby County and other significant civil rights and civil liberties cases, does not bode well for the country.