The Supreme Court is in the midst of a crisis of legitimacy. As a result of its rapid shift to the right, especially with its 5-4 decision in June in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned Roe v. Wade and revoked the constitutional right to abortion, the court’s public approval ratings have plummeted. It suggests that increasing numbers of Americans are losing faith in the highest judicial body in the land.

Justice Elena Kagan addressed the legitimacy crisis in a talk before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ Judicial Conference on July 24, 2022, in Montana.

You can hear Kagan’s complete speech recorded on CSPAN here or on YouTube here:

Pay close attention to these comments:

If over time the court loses all connection with the public and with public sentiment, that is a dangerous thing for a democracy,” Kagan said. “I think people are rightly suspicious if one justice leaves the court or dies and another justice takes his or her place and all of a sudden, the law changes [and] it’s like: What’s going on here? That doesn’t seem like law…The way the court retains its legitimacy and fosters public confidence is by acting like a court.

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