The Supreme Court’s public standing has been eroded by extreme decisions like that of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The court’s decision in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, along with the manufactured controversy that inspired the case, does the court no favors.
To recap, the Colorado website-design business 303 Creative LLC did not want to design wedding websites for same-sex couples because of its religious beliefs. With the backing of Alliance Defending Freedom, a well-funded Christian Nationalist legal group that is part of the Shadow Network of organizations on a crusade to undermine church-state separation, it filed a lawsuit seeking the right to ignore Colorado’s anti-discrimination law. The court ruled 6-3 at the end of June that 303 Creative could not be forced by state law to create an expressive design.
303 Creative was an entirely theoretical case
The problem is that this case is entirely theoretical. 303 Creative never designed a wedding website for any couple, straight or gay. Nor had it ever sold a wedding website of anyone else’s design. Therefore, the pre-enforcement challenge against Colorado’s anti-discrimination law was already on unstable ground.
But that isn’t the only manufactured controversy in this case. Included in the case evidence was that a man named Stewart had allegedly requested 303 Creative’s services for his wedding to “Mike.” The problem is that Stewart is actually a straight man in California who has been married to a woman for 15 years. He says he never made this request to 303 Creative. If he is to be believed, that means the entire case is a fabrication. 303’s complaint references a request that was never made for a service it has never offered against a law that was never enforced against it.
Polls show Supreme Court’s standing is sinking
That the Supreme Court agreed to hear this case and ruled in 303 Creative’s favor is one more reason why public trust in the court is eroding. People no longer buy the idea that the Supreme Court is an apolitical force meant to safeguard the Constitution. A recent Quinnipiac University national poll found that 70% of Americans think that Supreme Court justices are too influenced by politics. An NBC News poll found the court’s standing at the lowest point since the organization began measuring public sentiment 30 years ago.
The Christian Nationalist agenda is being upheld by these supposedly apolitical justices, and everyday people are losing faith in the court. Recent ethics controversies are sinking the court’s reputation even further. If these justices don’t clean up their act, the court will face a real legitimacy problem in the near future.