Frantic over the possible end of abortion on demand across America, the media is devolving into throwing doubt onto the legitimacy of the high court, joining Democrats in crafting a narrative that the end of Roe v. Wade could only be engineered by a hijacking of American democracy.
Chuck Todd of MSNBC, who usually projects himself as measured, said Sunday on Meet the Press that the Supreme Court has a “broken confirmation process, manipulated most recently by Mitch McConnell to manufacture this conservative majority.”
Joe Scarborough, also of MSNBC, last Tuesday flatly called the draft opinion “an illegitimate ruling by an illegitimate court.”
When co-host Mika Brzezinski asked Scarborough what the story of the leak meant for the Supreme Court, he responded: “Well, for the Supreme Court, in a word, illegitimacy. You know, the court’s always been guided by the law, but it’s also been keenly aware that it’s the only unelected branch of American government. They needed to not appear to be only contemptuous of public opinion. That would be especially true today, given the GOP’s ‘might makes right’ approach to the sacking of Merrick Garland’s nomination, or the elevation of Donald Trump’s final pick.”
Scarborough pointed to a picture from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s funeral that showed President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and former presidential candidate Al Gore sitting in the front row.
“The five Democratic politicians on the front row won the most votes in the presidential elections of 1992, 1996, 2000, 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020. And yet, a half-century of constitutional rights supported by over 70 percent of Americans … will be swept away by the presidents not in this picture and the presidents who were outvoted in each one of those elections over the last three decades.”
“Now Americans will rightly conclude that their voices and their votes and their votes no longer matter,” Scarborough said.
“So, what are the implications for the court, for the law, and for American democracy?” he asked, answering that the reaction to a reversal of Roe “is going to be, most likely, that this is an illegitimate decision by an illegitimate court.”
On CNN, senior legal analyst Preet Bharara objected to Justice Clarence Thomas’ statement in Atlanta on Friday that people need to “live with outcomes we don’t agree with,” saying, “That’s a good statement as far as it goes, if you are detached from history or you’re speaking in a vacuum.”
He speculated that people will not abide by the outcome of the Supreme Court if it overturns Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey and appeared to legitimize such behavior.
“If you engage in an outcome that lays the foundation and opens the door for other bad outcomes … that’s also going to make people not want to abide by this particular outcome, the overruling of Roe v. Wade,” he said. “It’s an easy thing to say in a speech [that] people should abide by outcomes, but it’s not how it works in practice, particularly when it’s gone this way.”
He pointed to Democratic claims that the Supreme Court is illegitimate because of the confirmations of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia during the presidency of Barack Obama and the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg just before the 2020 election, saying that conservatives had engaged in “cheating Merrick Garland out of a seat” and “rushing Amy Coney Barrett to a seat on the Supreme Court when the election was days away.”
“When you have an outcome that people think is tainted in some way because there was cheating in some way, or bad faith in some way, or the methodology, or the arguments made in favor of the outcome are things that are unusual and perhaps even unprecedented in constitutional history,” he said, “then people have a harder time dealing with the outcome.”
The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank called the five conservative justices on the Supreme Court “hacks” and said the draft opinion represented “the betrayal of democracy by McConnell’s Republicans and the toxic spectacle of the Roberts court aiding it.”
“The ruling is possible only because of the seat on the court McConnell and his Republican colleagues effectively stole by refusing for 293 days to confirm — or even consider — President Barack Obama’s duly nominated candidate Merrick Garland.”
Milbank alleged that the Supreme Court justices are rewarding the Republican senators who confirmed them by practicing judicial activism to benefit the Republican Party.
“This McConnell-packed Roberts court has returned the favor by stacking the deck in favor of minority rule by Republicans,” he said.
Milbank pointed to Alito’s declaration in the leaked majority opinion for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
“It is time? Why?” asked Milbank. “Because Republicans have packed the court with enough illegitimate votes to do so, and the political hacks they appointed are now rewarding their betrayal of democracy.”
MSNBC host Joy Reid encapsulated the media’s consensus opinion when she said, “Mitch McConnell’s stolen right-wing court is on the precipice of ripping away 50 years of protected rights.”
The media has rushed headfirst into dismissing the judicial branch of government as entirely illegitimate and alleging it is engaged in an overthrow of the Constitution. There are consequences for deliberately convincing Americans that the rulings of the highest court in the land are invalid, but the media seems not to care. Mainstream media figures seem to believe democracy is only undermined when decisions they disagree with become law.