The last time the Supreme Court of the United States was this ideologically divided may have been in the early New Deal era when the court invalidated popular social welfare legislation, one expert told Capital Tonight.  

“The court’s standing is as low as it ever has been,” said Dr. Vin Bonventre, the Justice Robert H. Jackson distinguished professor of law at Albany Law School.

Indeed, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released in mid-September, only 37% of registered voters said they approved of the court’s handling of its job.

One reason? The public’s view that the court is political.  

According to an analysis by Dr. Bonventre, published in a recent edition of the New York State Bar Association Journal, the public is not wrong. 

“It’s not a matter that some [justices] believe in precedent and some don’t. Some believe in deferring to Congress and some don’t. Some believe in states’ rights and some don’t. It has nothing whatsoever to do with that,” explained Bonventre.  

Instead, if one considers how social and political conservative politicians vote generally, and how social and political liberal politicians vote, you get the breakdown of the court, he explained.    

“That’s really what’s happening at the court,” Bonventre said. “Regardless of what the Justices say.”

This Supreme Court’s session this year will be especially contentious. 

Among the cases on the docket: One that expands gun rights (NYS Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen on Nov. 3) and one that narrows abortion rights (Dobbs.v. Jackson Women’s Health) on Dec. 1.