When Supreme Court member Sam Alito’s secret plan for canceling the constitutional right of people to end their pregnancies leaked to the public, Republican politicos went ballistic.

Not over this attack on liberty. Over the leak.

Republican Chief Justice John Roberts called the unauthorized disclosure an “affront” to the majesty of the Supreme Court. Likewise, Republican congressional leaders have furiously demanded to know who leaked the text and why!

Way beyond their political screeching and posturing, however, a Pennsylvania woman quietly wrote a letter to the New York Times that calmly posed more honest, fundamental questions:

“Why are Supreme Court votes and processes so hidden in the first place?” she asked. And “how did this grip on secrecy become so sacrosanct?”

After all, as important and enormously powerful as this tiny body is, it’s still a governmental agency doing public business that affects every American. The legal work that the nine members of this ultimate judicial authority do — including their internal machinations to reach such awesome decisions as nullifying fundamental human rights — ought to be transparent to all who will be affected.

The ugly truth is that today’s third branch of government has needlessly, dangerously, and rather ludicrously become a black-robed autocracy.

Bear in mind that these nine individuals are enrobed for life, choose the cases they consider, make up their own rules of ethical conduct, operate almost entirely behind closed doors, and can conspire to issue decrees. A bare majority of only five of them can arbitrarily overrule decisions by presidents, Congress, states, other courts, voters — and your own personal life decisions, too.

And now comes a six-person GOP majority of Supreme Court justices determined to entrench corporate plutocracy, right-wing theocracy, and GOP sovereignty over all of us. That’s why we must finally lift the medieval level of secrecy these partisan judges are using to shroud their actions.

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Jim Hightower

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.

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