Chief Justice John Roberts is defending the authority of the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution

DENVER– Chief Justice John Roberts defended the Supreme Court’s power to interpret the Constitution, saying its role shouldn’t be called into question just because people disagree with its decisions.

When asked to make his first public appearance since Roe v. Wade reflected on the past year in court through the US Supreme Court, Roberts said Friday he was concerned that recently some critics of the court’s controversial decisions have questioned the court’s legitimacy. what he said was a mistake. He did not name specific cases or critics.

“If the court doesn’t retain its legitimate function of interpreting the constitution, I’m not sure who would assume that mantle. You don’t want the political branches to tell you what the law is, and you don’t want public opinion to guide you in making the appropriate decision,” Roberts said when he was spoken to by two judges from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver at his conference in Colorado Springs was interviewed.

Roberts described the past year as unusual and difficult, noting that the public will not be allowed to enter the court, which was closed in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, as a hardship. He also said it was “stomach-rending” to drive into the Supreme Court every day, which was surrounded by barricades.

The barriers were erected in May as protests erupted outside the courthouse and outside the homes of some Supreme Court justices after an unprecedented draft advisory opinion was leaked that indicated the judges had been planning to rule Roe v for nearly 50 years. The barriers are gone and the public will be allowed back in when the court’s new session begins in October, but a Roberts-ordered investigation into the leak is ongoing.

At the same conference on Thursday, Judge Neil Gorsuch said it was “hugely important” to identify the leaker and said he awaited a progress report, “hopefully soon.”

Gorsuch condemned the leak, as did other judges who have addressed it publicly.

“Improper efforts to influence judicial decision-making, by any quarter or by anyone, are a threat to the judicial decision-making process,” Gorsuch said. Reporters from the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg attended the lecture.

The leaked draft was largely incorporated into Judge Samuel Alito’s final opinion in June, which gave Roe v. Wade overturned in a case upholding Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks. The ruling paved the way for strict abortion restrictions or bans in nearly half of US states.

In the June decision, Roberts, appointed to the court by former President George W. Bush in 2005, voted to uphold the Mississippi law, but he did not join the conservative judges in also voting Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey picked up. the 1992 decision reaffirming the right to abortion. He wrote that it was not necessary to overturn broad precedents to uphold state law and said he would take “a more measured course.”

Roberts has repeatedly spoken about the importance of judicial independence, refuting perceptions of the court as a political institution not significantly different from Congress or the presidency.

However, opinion polls since the leak and publication of the final abortion decision have shown a sharp decline in approval of the court and trust in the institution.

When asked what the public might not know about how the court works, Roberts emphasized the collegiality among judges and the court’s tradition of shaking hands before conferences start or the bench is taken. After the judges could disagree on a decision, everyone eats together in the court dining room, where they talk about everything but work, he said. He said it wasn’t born out of “fake affection,” but out of respect that comes from the back-and-forth of explaining ideas and listening to the responses.

“We have a common calling and act on it,” he said.


Associated Press writer Mark Sherman contributed to this report from Washington.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Chief Justice John Roberts is defending the authority of the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution

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