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Opinion
Stephen L. Carter

The Supreme Court Has Always Been Political

A leaked draft of an abortion ruling has some decrying the high court’s partisanship. But the justices have always had their own agendas.

Metal fencing can’t keep politics out of the Supreme Court.

Metal fencing can’t keep politics out of the Supreme Court.

Photographer: Tom Brenner/Getty Images North America

In the swirling days since what I suppose we should just call The Leak, a significant theme has been the argument that the Supreme Court has grown deeply politicized. But there never existed a golden age when the court was anything else.

To call the court politicized is to make two separate charges: First, that partisans have successfully packed it with those who will vote a particular ideological line; second, that the justices themselves, busily pursuing ideological agendas, consider the political implications of their work.