Time to Unpack the Supreme Court

This Letter was sent and published by the Washington Post on October 24, 2020. To be directed there, please follow this link >>.
Photo credit: Demetrius Freeman, The Washington Post

Dear Editor:

Charles Lane (Washington Post Op-ed, 10/20/20) writes that Judge Barrett, the current Supreme Court nominee, “would be no friend of right-to-die laws.”  His prediction is based on her writings supporting Supreme Court precedent holding that a dying person’s access to physician-assisted suicide is not protected under the Constitution.

The op-ed points up one of deeply disturbing aspects of the Barrett nomination: She is being promoted for the Court because of her views on many important issues, including abortion, the Affordable Care Act and a possible challenge by President Trump to the upcoming election returns. Her nomination, thus, poses a threat to the ability to believe the Supreme Court is a court of law rather than an arbiter of public policy.

The Supreme Court is not a supra-legislative body.  The public’s willingness to accept Supreme Court decisions depends critically on a belief that law, not politics, governs its decisions.  In Marbury v. Madison more than 200 years ago, Chief Justice Marshall said that it is the role of the Court “to say what the law is.”   It is not the role of the Court to decide cases based on the personal beliefs of its members.

Stan Marcuss
Member, Lawyers Defending American Democracy