The Supreme Court decision that was leaked to the public containing the controversial opinion to strike down the decisions made in Roe V. Wade has caused a stir amongst political members. While mass protest and public controversy on women’s reproductive rights is a majority concern, political officials have used the leak to critique opposing political parties and make the leakers political affiliation a cause of concern. This is an indirect example of populism, and shows how populism has shifted politicians focus to identity politics.
“Because I’m not a moron, because I live on planet Earth” was Ted Cruz response to questioning following his statement on the leaker’s political affiliation, assuming the leaker to be a liberal. Politico dropped a bombshell story March 2nd, when they revealed that the Supreme Court had voted to strike down the decisions made in Roe V. Wade, a monumental court case that is pro abortion, and aids in expanding reproductive rights. While the draft’s decision has been a cause of concern for both supporters of abortion and anti abortionist, poltical officials have not missed out on the opportunity to use the leak to critique their political opposition. The weaponizing of the leakers’ political affiliation is a result of a growing populist shift in politics that has created an aggressive division amongst political parties.
As a result of the leak, Chief Justice John Roberts has ordered the marshall of the court to investigate the leak in order to find the culprit. However, Republican lawmakers are demanding that a federal investigation takes place. Senator Marsha Blackburn stated it was an attack on the courts, and an unprecedented action. GOP Senator Ted Cruz, believes a federal investigation should occur, as he calls it “the most egregious breach of trust at the Supreme Court that has ever happened”. While it is unarguable as to why the importance of finding the leakers identity is critical, the leakers political stance is up to debate. However, the question as to why the leaker’s political affiliation is important can be solved through the populist lense.
Populism in America has been increasing at a growing rate, that can arguably be considered a result of Donald Trump’s presidency, and an increase in “me first politics”. Populism in America has been driven by several factors. Economic decline, Social media’s ability to highlight political extremism, and cultural factors such as anti immigration beliefs allowed for political exploitation amongst the masses. Populism spreads quickly because of its efficiency to create scapegoats for real issues and problems, and provides quick and simple “answers” for the average uneducated voter. As a result, former president Donald Trump was effectively able to become president through his campaign promises of removing corrupt elites from political decision making positions and “drain the swamp”, a facet of populism that focuses on aiding the “people” as opposed to wealthy elites. Trump’s success saw a giant wave of radical right advocates replicating the blueprints to his success.
Due to the rise in populism, political advocates made the issue of the leaker’s political allegiance a topic of interest, alongside other important questions because it can be used to critique either the left, or the right. Ted Cruz believes the leaker to be “some left-wing law clerk” that leaked the decision to further aid the liberal political party. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, another outspoken Republican has called the leak “another escalation in the radical left’s ongoing campaign to bully and intimidate federal judges and substitute mob rule for the rule of law”. Both these quotes from Republican leadership show how attention is focused on the leak, and the political affiliation of the leaker, rather than the contents of the decision the Supreme Court has made. As a result, a division between both political parties regarding the leak is apparent. Democratic leadership is focusing on the contents of the leak, and what it means for the future of abortion law, and women and reporductive rights, whereas republican leadership is most concerned about the leaker, as seen when McConell argued that the left was responsible for the leak, and made no comments on the decision made by the draft opinion.
The reason as to why republican leadership has decided to focus on the leaker, as opposed to the contents of the leak is an indirect result of populist. It can be argued that Republican leaders decision to ignore the draft decision comes from a fear of an increase of democratic voting as a result of the contents of the leak during midterm elections. However, by reviewing statements made by Cruz, and McConell specifically criticizing the liberal party another argument is plausible. Republican leaders are hoping to use the leak in order to push the existing narrative that the liberal left is exploiting the media in order to cause a shift in decision through the courts. Republican leaders are arguing that the leak is a result of left wing opposition, and the trust of the judicial system being desecrated in order to cause a change in decision. By pushing this narrative, it further incentivized division amongst citizens of different political ideologies, and further contributed to people with right wing ideology to further grow resentment for the left. Republican influencers have also used social media to weaponize the leak. Daily Wire host Matt Walsh, an American conservative political commentator tweeted that the leak was “an attack on our system 100000000 times more serious than the Capitol riot”. Media manipulation also occurred such as Rebecca Mansour, Breitbart News editor stated baseless claims that pro abortion protestors called for the burning of The Supreme Court with no factual evidence. Political efforts to rile up the right with baseless claims are rooted in populism. Despite having no evidence that the leaker is an associate of the left, Republican leaders push that narrative in order to further champion themselves as speakers of the people, and further contribute to division amongst the public in order to cause the mobilization of right and conservative voters.
In conclusion, the republican decision to ignore the contents of The Supreme Court decision, and instead focus on other factors of the leak such as the identity of the leaker, and political party of the leaker is an outcome of populism. Republican belief of weaponizing the leak in order to critique the opposing political party is an example of how populism contributes to the erosion of democratic institutions. By focusing on the political party of the leaker, and stating assumptions with no evidence, Republicans hope to mobilize voters as opposed to focusing on social issues that are featured in the contents of the leak. This as a result, further fuels division as opposed to offering discussion that can contribute to progress.