Berkeley law school dean Erwin Chemerinsky took issue with right-leaning justices ruling in favor of Republican state laws
The incoming president of the Association of American Law Schools and the dean of Cal Berkeley’s law school said the Supreme Court is full of “partisan hacks.”
Professor Erwin Chemerinsky made his comments in a September 19 Los Angeles Times opinion piece titled, “Are Supreme Court justices ‘partisan hacks’? All the evidence says yes.”
Justice Amy Coney Barrett recently criticized the notion of the Court being full of “partisan hacks” during a speech at the [Mitch] McConnell Center at the University of Louisville Law School.
Past speakers at the McConnell Center include then-Vice President Joe Biden, President Obama’s United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Setting aside the irony of uttering these statements at an event honoring Sen. Mitch McConnell, who blocked the confirmation of Merrick Garland to the court and rushed through the confirmation of Barrett precisely because of their ideologies, the reality is that time and again the court’s Republican majority has handed down decisions strongly favoring Republicans in the political process.
He then proceeded to list a number of Supreme Court decisions that occurred before Barrett’s confirmation in October 2020. Chemerinsky counts the 2010 Citizens United v. F.E.C decision, concerning political speech limits, and the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, concerning the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Chemerinsky also criticized a recent decision in favor of an Arizona election integrity law.
As proof of the partisanship, the law school dean argues that the justices, appointed by Republican presidents, ruled favorably for laws passed by Republican laws.
Left out is mention of Justice John Roberts’ casting the deciding vote to reverse a Louisiana pro-life law or his vote to uphold the constitutionality of the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.
The dean’s comments drew the attention of George Washington University law professor and legal commentator Jonathan Turley.
It is a bizarre statement. The last two years have seen conservative justices like Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, and Barrett cast key votes with their more liberal colleagues. That includes the rejection of all of the election challenges to the 2020 election that led to these justices being attacked by former President Donald Trump.
“The portrayal of voting pattern of conservatives as raw politics is an old saw on Capitol Hill,” Turley said. He pointed out that Rhode Island Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse denounced the “Roberts Five” of Republican-appointed justices, but not the “Ginsburg four.”
“Those liberal justices are not ideologues because they are treated as manifestly right,” Turley theorized of Whitehouse’ reasoning.
“This analysis tend to fulfill a narrative rather than inform the readers,” Turley said. “With all due respect to Chemerinsky and his extraordinary career, such columns fuel the age of rage where reason is increasingly a stranger to legal analysis.”
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