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Alito doesn’t understand the Supreme Court is already destroyed

In a cozy and delusional interview with The Wall Street Journal's opinion pages, the author of the Dobbs decision found a safe space.


The GOP-majority Supreme Court wreaked havoc on abortion access by overturning Roe v. Wade last June. But if you read The Wall Street Journal's recent interview with Samuel Alito, author of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that overturned Roe, you might believe the justice sees himself and fellow Republicans as the true victims of their successful quest to eliminate the constitutional right to abortion.

Instead of discussing the unpopular Dobbs ruling itself, Alito focused on the leaked draft of his opinion, which he said made him and other Republican appointees "targets of assassination." While any plot to assassinate judges is bad (a person was arrested for allegedly attempting to kill Justice Brett Kavanaugh after the leak), focusing on the leak instead of the damage his opinion has brought and will bring lets Alito continue to play the victim while wielding power over his purported tormentors.

As for the leak itself, Alito, ensconced within the safe confines of the Journal’s opinion pages, asserted in the interview published Friday that he has a “pretty good idea” who did it. While he admitted it’s not enough proof to name the perpetrator — who prematurely provided what was about to become public knowledge — he expressed certainty that the leaker couldn't have been a conservative, but rather had to be someone who intended to change the opinion before it came out.

Alito’s delusional destruction concern also ignores that, ever since Roe, remaking the Supreme Court into one that would overturn it has been a decadeslong GOP project.

Yet, even if it was a liberal, the leaker may simply have wanted the country to know that this messed up thing was happening, regardless of whether the person intended to set in motion some plot for a hit squad of other liberals to then kill the justices, who would undoubtedly be on higher security alert after the leak. (The man accused of planning to attack Kavanaugh was readily apprehended.) That theory, however, would require Alito to grapple with the substance of what his opinion actually did — strip away a popular right — rather than when people learned about it.

Similarly, the Republican judge isn’t satisfied with dictating reproductive rights for the nation; he also wants to set the terms of public debate on the matter. Responding to criticism of the court’s legitimacy, he told the Journal, “It’s one thing to say the court is wrong; it’s another thing to say it’s an illegitimate institution.” Challenging legitimacy, he proclaimed, is “really striking at something that’s essential to self-government."

So there we have it: We may hereby criticize Dobbs and other rulings as wrong, but to question the court’s legitimacy is to strike at the foundations of government itself. Of course, Alito didn't consider that both his court's rulings and the increasingly scrutinized ethics of the justices are at fault for the court’s plummeted standing among the people bound by retrograde rulings like Dobbs and other decisions on guns, voting rights and more.

Alito’s ignorance was likewise evident in his comments about court packing — that is, adding seats to the court to counteract Republican rulings like Dobbs. Here’s what he said about that:

To change the size of the court just because you want to change the result in cases—that would destroy it. You want to talk about our legitimacy? That would destroy the perception that we’re anything other than a political body.

Obviously, it’s a laughable statement outside of Alito’s conservative milieu. One thing it conveniently ignored is that Republicans effectively shrank the court from nine justices to eight, when, following Antonin Scalia's death in 2016, they held his seat open for a GOP president, Donald Trump, to appoint Neil Gorsuch, one of the five justices in the Dobbs majority.

Alito’s delusional destruction concern also ignored that, ever since Roe, remaking the Supreme Court into one that would overturn it has been a decadeslong GOP project. He should know, as his confirmation was part of the progression toward that goal, which finally came to fruition thanks to the jamming through of Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to fill the seat left vacant when Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in 2020.

That’s all to say that the Supreme Court is already destroyed — and the perpetrator of that crime can’t also be the victim.