16 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY MARCH 7-13, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Courting Disaster The Supreme Court is fundamentally antidemocratic, and it must be stopped. By Elie Mystal FORUM The nine Supreme Court justices are the nepo-babies of American democracy: They’ve earned nothing, yet act like they own the entire world. Every other institution in this country treats the Supreme Court with unfailing respect and total acquiescence to its power. Why? What have these people done to deserve the authority to wield power without question? The problem starts with us, “the people.” We don’t bow down to presidents or congresspeople in this country. We straight-up harass politicians. We fight City Hall. The court’s greatest institutional accomplice is the media, which largely insists on covering the nine justices as they wish to be covered, instead of as the unelected, unaccountable poison that enfeebles the rest of American democracy. The justices answer no questions they don’t want to be asked, sit for no interviews unless they are promoting a book, and do no public events other than ones where entire topics are predetermined as off-limits. The president can’t walk out onto his lawn without a gaggle of reporters waiting in the hedges to shout questions. But the press dutifully leaves the nine justices of the Supreme Court alone. We treat the Supreme Court the way we do because people don’t understand how the court operates, and blithely assume there’s a valid reason for it. The people who do understand have made a political philosophy 101 decision: Tyranny is preferable to chaos. We bow to the Court because we fear that relieving it of its unearned power would lead our fractured country to open civil war. If the court does not get to decide which laws we live under, who does? Congress? What happens when Texas, or California, disagrees with Congress? The threat of chaos always stalks democracy, and in our system we’ve allowed the Supreme Court to place itself as the final arbiter of our conflicts because we fear that the alternative is having our political conflicts be decided by strength of arms. We cannot and must not be satisfied with our pretend-democracy that can be thrown out whenever five justices get together on a fishing boat with Leonard Leo. The first step toward stopping the Supreme Court’s political actions is to treat the justices as political actors and subject them to all of the scrutiny, pressure and protest normal political actors face every day. The Constitution says they can keep their jobs for life, but it doesn’t say they get to enjoy them. To distinguish between legitimate rulings and ones that should be ignored: They should be affirmed by at least one justice from both parties, or we should ignore it. It’s that simple. Both sides or GTFO. The Supreme Court must be stopped. We must use what little power the court still allows us to have to vote for people with the strength and wisdom to stop them. To get there, all of us need to recognize how dangerous the court is. We are ruled by this court because we are too disunified and distracted to resist it. That has to end, because these nine people will not stop devouring democracy until there is none left to eat. Elie Mystal is justice correspondent for The Nation, where this story first appeared. OPINION The first step is to treat the justices as political actors.