The Struggle for Faith: The Supreme Court’s Painful Journey After Dobbs

During a speech last month, Roberts identified his decision to surround the court with an 8-foot-tall riot fence as the most painful of his 18 years as chief justice. Deal often.

“The hardest decision I had to make was whether to erect fences and barricades around the Supreme Court. “I had no choice but to go ahead and do it,” Roberts said.

In a measure of the political polarization surrounding the court, Roberts’ expression of concern about the largely symbolic shift away from transparency and public accountability was greeted in some quarters with dry sarcasm and criticism.

“We should all encourage such public speeches by the Chief Justice and other judges to expose the court to the mindset of born-wealthy American aristocrats like John Roberts.” said Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC.

Late Sen. A former aide to Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) described Roberts as “wandering through the most corrupt period in Supreme Court history.” standards,” and accused him of underestimating the impact of the court’s abortion decision — even though Roberts refused to sign the overturning decision. Roe v. Wade.

“John Roberts is completely forgotten,” O’Donnell added. “It’s worse than we thought — much worse.”

Finding your campsite

But in the midst of consciousness There were moments of tumult, too — and socializing among like-minded colleagues has become more common in recent decades.

The historical society dinner kicked off a frenetic week of activity for many of the court’s justices — a week that comes at the heart of a busy time for court work, when clerks and justices finalize opinions to be released in the usual flurry of decisions. Ahead of the judges’ treasured summer vacation.

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The day after the dinner, the court’s public spaces were again partially closed to visitors as it held its traditional annual awards ceremony, complete with a barbeque for staff.

“There was pork—a lot of pork,” said one attendee. Smokers were placed earlier in the day on a patio that most Americans had never seen. In a brief exchange with POLITICO, Gorsuch confirmed that he, along with other court employees, wore aprons to tend one of the grills, but said he wasn’t doing hardcore barbecuing.

“Oh no, just hamburgers and hot dogs,” the Trump appointee said.

The next morning, all of the court’s Republican-appointed justices except Barrett, one of Washington’s most prominent GOP lawyers, C. Boyton came to Gray’s memorial service.

A fleet of armored SUVs escorted the five judges to the event, which, like most judges’ outings these days, was not publicly announced. Security officers stood near the doors of the Georgetown Christ Church, restricting arrivals to invited guests on a pre-approved list. The priest who led the service asked guests not to take photos or videos.

Thomas, one of three speakers whose tumultuous confirmation process in 1991 overturned sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill, was overseen by Gray.

“Each of us faced challenges during our nomination and confirmation processes,” Thomas recalled. “It’s in the midst of challenges like this that one sees the true size of a person, and that’s where Boyden excelled. He had courage when many others faltered.

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On Friday, three of the court’s GOP nominees stepped out again — for the retirement ceremony of DC Circuit Judge David Sentell, a leader of the conservative legal world. Gorsuch, a former Sentel clerk, did the speaking honors this time, while Kavanagh and Thomas looked on. Ginny Thomas, who doesn’t attend many public events these days, accompanied her husband to the federal courthouse where the defendants will be arraigned on January 6.

“When President Reagan tapped the judge for this court, I imagine some people were surprised—surprised that he didn’t put on his boots or a cowboy hat or a reel in his draw. He brought everybody with him. He also brought with him a wisdom from outside the beltway.

Another speaker, Judge Royce Lambert, recounted a formative experience in Gorsuch’s life: his mother’s bitter contempt battle with Congress while serving as EPA administrator in the 1980s. It’s another reference to the painful personal and ideological battles of the past that sometimes seem to shadow the court, as it did for Thomas at the Gray memorial service.

As a lawyer in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, Lambert recalled that he unsuccessfully tried to block House proceedings against Anne Gorsuch Burford. “She actually asked me to meet her son and explain to her son why I lost,” Lambert said with a laugh.

While many instances have seen conservative justices surrounded by their fellow conservatives (probably more in number since they won six of the court’s nine seats in 2020), they rarely leave with their liberal colleagues. First Tops Last year, Kavanagh and Roberts joined Kagan at a holiday party hosted by the solicitor general’s office. Kavanagh and Kagan came together at an April meeting for Supreme Court lawyers sponsored by the Supreme Court Institute of Georgetown Law.

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Last month, Kagan gave a warm and complimentary tribute to Roberts at an American Law Institute dinner in Washington, declaring his comments “some of the best writing in law.”

But many events have a decidedly ideological bent, if not a partisan hue.

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