The revelation of a Supreme Court draft opinion that would overrule Roe v. Wade has caused many Americans to express doubts about whether the justices are guided by the law rather than by their political beliefs.
In interviews across the country, even some opponents of abortion expressed unease with the way that a majority of the court had coalesced behind the sweeping draft written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. that would undo nearly 50 years of legalized access to abortion nationwide.
Rebekah Merkle, an author and mother of five in Moscow, Idaho, said she thought that Supreme Court justices would be "vindicated as the heroes" if they struck down Roe v. Wade.
But although she approves of the composition of the court, she does not dispute that it finds itself deeply enmeshed in politics. "It certainly seems more politicized to me than it used to be," Mrs. Merkle said.
"And part of it is because politics have gotten so ugly recently. And that seems to have definitely impacted the court, as well."
Jenny Doyle, a neonatal nurse practitioner and mother of two in Boulder, Colo., was so distressed by the Roe news that she considered whether she should leave the country: "I think Iceland sounds good," she said. But she was on the same page as Mrs. Merkle in seeing the court as an increasingly political actor.
"I absolutely believe in a term limit on the Supreme Court," she said, of justices who can choose to serve until they die. "They are losing touch with the real America and the real issues of Americans."
Scholars and political experts have regularly debated whether the court's steady march to the right, exacerbated by increasingly contentious confirmation fights and disputes like the Senate's refusal to even hold a hearing on President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick B. Garland, was sapping public faith in the court as fundamentally a legal forum.
Also perhaps straining that faith was the now-familiar ritual of conservative nominees professing their view of Roe as settled law and their respect for precedent—and then apparently voting to overturn it the first chance they got.