News & Ideas  -  Roberts Court, a Threat to Democracy’s Future

Article Defending Inclusive Democracy Sharon L Davies

By Sharon L. Davies,

The Supreme Court decision in Trump v. United States threatens our nation’s democracy. Contrary to the majority’s claims, the establishment of immunity for presidents is neither narrow nor supported by law or constitutional history. To the contrary, the ruling dangerously elevates the president to a near-monarch—precisely what the Founders sought to prevent by building checks and balances into our system of governance. By undermining those safeguards, the majority paves the way for aspiring strongmen of the future to hold themselves above the rule of law and unaccountable to the public will.

The decision immediately takes its place alongside the Supreme Court’s most poorly reasoned rulings, including in 1857, Dred Scott v. Sandford, which denied citizenship and constitutional rights to people of African ancestry; in 1896, Plessy v. Ferguson, which upheld racial segregation; and in 1944, Korematsu v. United States, which justified the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

The penchant of the conservative justices of today’s court for substituting their beliefs for decisions of earlier courts has also forever marked the Roberts Court as one of the most activist courts in American history. And most disturbing, many of its decisions have deprived citizens of rights believed long settled and obliterated guardrails needed to protect our democracy and the people’s sovereignty.

In one case after the next, the Roberts Court has issued opinions that ignore the will of the people and weaken our democracy: Citizens United v. FEC, declaring corporations “people” with uncontrolled  power to use money to influence elections; Shelby County v. Holder, weakening the Voting Rights Act; and Dobbs v. Jackson, revoking the right of women to an abortion and giving states control over decisions best left to women and their doctors. This latest decision gives unheard of immunity to future executives and abdicates the court’s constitutional obligation to serve as a check on the actions of despotic leaders.

Just weeks ago, Kettering Foundation senior fellow, former federal judge J. Michael Luttig, warned that the court will not save us. He was right. We, the people, must save ourselves.