Judge Sotomayor says Supreme Court can regain public trust, praises Judge Thomas

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Thursday that the Supreme Court occasionally makes mistakes but can correct its path and perception with the public.

Speaking to a liberal legal group, the American Constitution Society, the Obama nominee said she believed the court could “regain public confidence.”

Judge Sotomayor also had kind words about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the court’s longest-serving Conservative jurist, with whom she frequently disagrees when rendering decisions.

“He is a man who cares deeply about the courthouse as an institution, about the people who work there,” Judge Sotomayor said.

His comments came as Judge Thomas’ wife is under scrutiny by House Democrats for texts she exchanged with allies of former President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the 2020 election.

Democratic lawmakers argued that Judge Thomas should refuse to participate in elections or Trump-related cases, while others suggested he should resign because of his wife’s communications.

Additionally, the Supreme Court’s approval dropped 10 percentage points after a draft opinion was leaked suggesting that justices are about to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision giving women the national right to abortion, according to a Marquette University survey released last month.

It was the first time a complete draft opinion had been leaked in the Supreme Court’s 233-year history.

The poll showed that 44% of Americans approve of the work the high court is doing, while 55% disapprove. In March, 54% approved while and 45% disapproved.

The results came about three weeks after the draft opinion leaked to Politico.

Pro-choice protesters have been appearing outside the homes of conservative Supreme Court justices since the news broke. An activist was recently arrested for the attempted murder of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh.

Judges are weighing Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Mississippi officials argued that Roe should be taken down because it is out of date. The state said the viability standard set in Roe is unclear, and Mississippi has an interest in banning abortion after 15 weeks to protect the health of women and their unborn children.

The legal battle was brought on by the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the state’s only abortion clinic, and a doctor who offers abortions. According to court documents, the clinic had provided abortions up to 16 weeks’ gestation.

They defied the state’s Gestational Age Act, enacted in 2018. The law prohibited abortions after 15 weeks unless there is a medical emergency or serious abnormality in the fetus.

Abortion providers told the court in their filing that the state’s interest in the health of the woman and children does not begin until viability, which occurs “months” after the 15-week marker established in the law.

In the draft opinion that was leaked to Politico in May, Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. said abortion laws should return to state legislatures.

“The Constitution makes no reference to abortion,” he wrote. “Roe was blatantly wrong from the start.”

“It is time to comply with the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the elected representatives of the people,” reads the draft opinion, dated February.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the draft opinion was authentic, but noted that it did not represent a final decision. He ordered the court marshal to investigate who leaked the document.

The official decision should be released by the end of June.

Meanwhile, Republican senators have pushed for Attorney General Merrick Garland to take action against progressive protesters, arguing that it is illegal to try to influence an incumbent judge during pending litigation.

They said the political environment is becoming increasingly dangerous after a California man was arrested last week outside Judge Kavanaugh’s home, where he planned to assassinate the judge, angered by the upcoming abortion decision as well as the recent mass shootings.

A Justice Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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