Kagan warns that Supreme Court legitimacy at risk if it strays too far from public sentiment

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(The Hill) – Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan said on Thursday at a conference that the legitimacy of the Supreme Court is tied to its conformity to public opinion, Reuters reported.

“I’m not talking about any particular decision or even any particular series of decisions, but if over time the court loses all connection with the public and with public sentiment, that’s a dangerous thing for a democracy,” Kagan said at a judicial conference in Montana.

Kagan, a liberal appointed to the Supreme Court by former President Obama, dissented in the court’s momentous Dobbs v. Jackson decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and sent the authority on abortion back to the states.

The recent Supreme Court term included many contentious decisions, including cases about gun rights and the Environmental Protection Agency, and Kagan was often on the dissenting side of majority decisions.

Kagan said at the conference that the court earns its legitimacy by remaining impartial and nonpartisan.

“Overall, the way the court retains its legitimacy and fosters public confidence is by acting like a court, is by doing the kinds of things that do not seem to people political or partisan,” she said.

Kagan referenced times in history when Supreme Court justices failed to discipline themselves and instead “attempted to basically enact their own policy or political or social preferences,” saying that this puts court legitimacy at risk.



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