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If everything seems stable within the Supreme Court right now, surprise: the Court is in dire straits, and its supporters are scrounging to rebuild public trust.
It’s clear that the Court is facing a crisis of confidence. A major Gallup poll showed that 25% of Americans have confidence in the Court, while 36% did last year. Moreover, this year’s figure is five points lower than the previous all-time low point for the Court in Gallup’s last century of polling. Axios polls came in slightly higher, with 38% approving and 61% disapproving of the Court’s ability to function.
It’s also clear that Americans’ trust in the Court declined due to major decisions in cases like Dobbs v. Women’s Health Organization and West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, which were handed down in June. In July, Marquette Law School published national polls that showed the Court’s approval at 38% and disapproval at 61%. But back in May, after the Dobbs opinion leaked, they found that 44% of respondents approved of the Court’s conduct. Approval was even higher in March at 54%—before the public saw where the Court was headed.
It seems, then, that regardless of high-browed legal discussions about cases like Dobbs, people care more about the suffering that will come from the Court’s decisions. Legal arguments are important, and many have successfully argued against the Court’s overreaching decision in Dobbs (Kaity Taylor did so for this journal). But I point my gaze toward what comes next—resting on the idea that, if it wasn’t clear before, people see a gap between the legal theories embedded in the Court’s decisions and the Court’s regard for how those theories actually manifest.
It took Mark Twain years of writing to realize a simple and overlooked fact.
“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”
The long-form gives the writer time to make mistakes, time to redeem them, time to introduce a slew of new ideas that might or might not work, and allows them to let everything rip. But to write small means tuning each word to the perfect pitch, refining the flow and meaning with far less at your disposal.
So it’s always exceptional to hear music that does something similar: it takes big ideas and narratives and packs them into two lines, poetry in staccato but rarely crescendo, an essay’s worth of meaning in ten words and endless inference.
If anything was clear on May 26, 2019, it was that Abade Irizarry was filming, and Officer Ahmed Yehia was blocking his shot. Where and why Officer Yehia stood in the way posed hard questions with murky answers and ignited a quiet fire under the seats of criminal law reformers and First Amendment enthusiasts. The fire continues today.
Anand Giridharadas, author of ‘Winners Take All,’ was perplexed by a paradox.
How could, in the same era, there be the most sweeping philanthropic efforts by corporations and big business — more giving, donating and well-working by well-to-do bodies — but also such vast inequality? How could so many foundations exist, so many billionaires with such incredible intentions be so powerful in their own moneymaking but so “powerless” to help outside of it in the world of policy?
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