How Democrats and Their Media Allies Cooked Up a Phony Supreme Court ‘Legitimacy Crisis’

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The legacy media has signaled that it’s all in on the Left’s cooked-up Supreme Court “legitimacy crisis.”

This week, Senate Democrats plan to vote on Supreme Court ethics rules that are clearly meant to give them the ability to hector and harass the court to get the decisions they want. The vote coincides with an increasingly aggressive media campaign to create the appearance that the Supreme Court is mired in scandal.

There’s no question the Left has launched this scheme because it is infuriated by the Supreme Court’s recent decisions.


A Supreme Court leaker struck the first big blow in 2022, releasing the upcoming draft opinion that would ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade. The opinion did not mark an aggressive change—it merely overturned the badly reasoned Roe decision, which had effectively outlawed abortion restrictions across America. That leak inspired death threats against justices, alongside political threats from Democrats in Congress.

More defeats this year, on affirmative action and the student loan bailout, have sent the left-wing media machine into overdrive.

The loss on affirmative action was particularly stinging given how unpopular racial preferences in admissions are. Without elite institutional backing, the issue is a dead letter with the American people.

The Left had become so accustomed to every institution doing its bidding that its only strategy in the face of defeat revolves around putting a metaphorical stick of dynamite under the Supreme Court and setting it off.


Every scheme Democrats have drawn up to deal with this challenge like court packing — has come off as obviously partisan and downright reckless.

They need the media to step in and make this all seem serious and noble. As you would expect, their friends in the media have been happy to oblige.

Politico basically acknowledged that the legacy media en masse is all too eager to carry water for the Democrats’ crusade to pulverize a Supreme Court they no longer control. This was from Monday’s Politico Playbook—a widely read media newsletter:

Fourteen months ago, our colleagues Josh Gerstein and Alex Ward’s revelation of the Supreme Court’s draft Dobbs opinion didn’t just upend American politics and abortion policy — it also ushered in a new era for the media’s coverage of the court.

No longer do SCOTUS reporters principally cover only the cases before the high court. Now they’re focused more regularly and aggressively on ‘the justices’ business dealings, relationships, and ethical issues,’ as well as the broader politics around the high court, Vanity Fair’s Charlotte Klein reports in a new story that interviews Josh about the shift.

The “new era” that they are referring to is one in which those on the Left must endure Supreme Court decisions they don’t like. Therefore, they will now do anything to smear the court and delegitimize it until they get decisions they like again.

Politico noted that media outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post are suddenly pouring resources into “asking explosive ethics questions” about Supreme Court justices.

After not caring to ask questions for generations our noble, objective media has suddenly become highly interested in ethics reform on the Supreme Court. What incredible and surely coincidental timing for the Democrat Party messaging effort.

They are here to convince Americans that the Supreme Court’s “crisis of legitimacy” is something other than the cooked-up Democrat campaign to bring the high court to heel.

Where was this legitimacy crisis when the Supreme Court sided in favor of Obamacare by reclassifying it as a tax? When that decision came down, the legacy media celebrated it as a wonderful affirmation of the Supreme Court’s institutional integrity.

That phase is over. The Bat Signal has gone up. The Left’s media pawns are in full delegitimizing mode now.

As columnist Dan McLaughlin wrote in National Review, some of the media’s “explosive” revelations about Supreme Court justices have been hilariously shallow non-stories. Apparently, some of Justice Clarence Thomas’ former clerks used Venmo—a commonly used money transfer app—to receive money for a Christmas party. A lawyer who worked on the latest affirmative action cases also happened to attend that party.

All the party attendees had clerked for Thomas at some point. The bill was $20. So, it was roughly equivalent to a fast-food lunch in a big city these days if you splurge on dessert. I guess we’re supposed to believe this sum swayed Thomas’ opinion on affirmative action, even though Thomas surely had no long public record of statements on the issue.

Get ready for a series of stories about how Thomas or Justice Samuel Alito, or any one of the other justices on the Supreme Court not controlled by the Left, once bought a hot dog at a baseball game that pro-life advocates also attended—a scandal of the highest proportions, implying that we need to restore Roe v. Wade or something.

As I’ve noted time and again, those on the Left will seek to destroy any institution they don’t control. They don’t care about constitutional limits, they don’t care about the structure of government, checks and balances, or anything like that. They only care about amassing power and enforcing their agenda.

If that means bulldozing the court, so be it. If that means empowering an activist court to overstep its bounds and act as a kind of super-legislative body as it did during the Warren Court era of the mid-20th century, again, so be it.

This latest campaign to intimidate and smash the court has been obvious and cynical to anyone paying attention.

In the end, this moment reveals a lot more about leftists than it does the integrity of the justices they seek to impugn.


This article was published by Daily Signal and is reproduced with permission.


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