Four justices—Stephen Breyer, Amy Coney Barrett, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito—in separate appearances recently expressed their concern that the public not view the Supreme Court as a partisan institution. Unusually outspoken, they worried about its future legitimacy in the eyes of the public and they accused the media, in part, of contributing to public skepticism of their nonpartisan decision-making.

In September, Irving Gornstein, executive director of the Supreme Court Institute at Georgetown University Law Center, echoed those concerns. “Not since Bush v. Gore has public perception of the court’s legitimacy seemed so seriously threatened. I think we may have come to a turning point,” he said.