by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
It gets tiring having to point this out, but here goes nothing.
At CNN today, Stephen Collinson writes:
“A tense national mood is likely to be exacerbated if, in what would be twin triumphs for conservatives, the Supreme Court rules against majority public opinion and loosens gun restrictions and overturns a woman’s right to an abortion in the coming days. Already, a man has been charged with trying to kill conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh, reflecting the charged atmosphere surrounding the court and the politicized issues it’s set to rule on.”
This is a disgraceful choice of framing that — whether intentionally or not — serves as a partial justification of the very “charged atmosphere” and assassination attempt that Collinson is ostensibly attempting to lament. The Supreme Court is a court, and its job is to uphold the law — whether statutory or constitutional — as it actually exists. The wishes of “majority public opinion” — or of would-be political assassins — are irrelevant to this endeavor. If a sufficient majority of Americans no longer like the law, they can use their democratic power to change its text. But, until they do so, that text will remain what it is, and the Court will be obliged to interpret it without fear, favor, contrivance, or reference to anything beyond its written terms.
Collinson points in particular to two questions that are currently before the Court: abortion and guns. If one were to take his insinuation at face value, one could be forgiven for believing that the plaintiffs had asked the Court, “Hey, so abortion and guns — good or bad?” But, of course, they have done no such thing. Rather, they have asked the Court to decide whether the text of the Constitution precludes or limits certain democratic choices related to the regulation of abortion and guns.