The Supreme Court has been in the spotlight recently, and not for any good reasons. The recent actions of the Court have raised debate about its institutional integrity — whether or not the institution acts within an ethical code and holds positive values. This means the court should act on the basis of constitutionality.
Considering that the basis of their job is to review specific laws that Americans must all abide by, they play a very important role in the government, as well as everyone’s day-to-day lives. No branch of government, however, should hold this much power without representing the people. This is a branch of government who controls what we legally can and cannot do, and can make decisions without public vote or input from those who have been voted in. This is why they should be structured to represent the demographics and political views of the people rather than its original structure.
The recent decision of the Court to overturn Roe v Wade and what that means for the U.S. was widely publicized. According to a CNN poll conducted shortly after the leaked news of the potential decision, 66% of Americans said they did not want this to happen and only 17% said they would be happy to see it happen. The court has the power to make changes that do not reflect the values of the American people. They do not even reflect the views of the current sitting President and Vice President, both of whom have publicly stated that they are doing all that they can to return abortion rights to as many states as possible.
If the court has the power to do something that the people and elected representatives do not want, they should make decisions based on the will of the people themselves. These are the people who have to abide by the legal decisions made by the Supreme Court after all. According to the 2020 United States census, 50.5% of the American population are women. Of the nine members currently within the Supreme Court, four are women. This means that only 44% of this court represents the 50.5% of the population. There are also only three current members of the Court who are people of color, about 33% to represent the 40.7% who did not identify in the recent census as ‘white alone, not Hispanic of Latino’. These statistics show that the Supreme Court does not match the demographics of the general public.
This lack of representation can be detrimental for the country as a whole, because justices should be able to relate to these people and understand what these decisions mean for them. A white person can hear about a black person’s experiences related to their race, but they can never fully understand them, as long as they have not experienced it themselves. Likewise, a man cannot fully understand the experience of a woman, so a court made up of majority men should not be allowed to make decisions on women’s rights. It’s essential that the Supreme Court represent the people who are going to have to live with their decisions.
Outside of these demographics, the court does not reflect the political values of the people either. Of the current sitting members of the court 66% is known to lean right politically, however only 43% of the American population identifies or leans in that direction, according to a 2021 Gallup poll. This misalignment with the population is exactly why and how the Court is able to pass laws that are unsupported and unwanted by the population, and it cannot be allowed to continue.