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The Movement to Expand the Supreme Court Is Growing – Mother Jones

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Activists to expand the Supreme Court rally outside the Supreme Court on June 22, 2022 in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Demand Justice

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protest movement The right-leaning Supreme Court has come a long way since 2018, when a small but dogged group of progressive lawyers began pressing to expand the nine-member court. In Democratic circles, the idea has gained traction, especially in the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning abortion rights, and recently it has attracted two big-name allies.

Last week, Democratic lawmakers gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court to reintroduce the Judiciary Act, with two of the nation’s largest abortion rights groups, Planned Parenthood and NARAL-Pro-Choice America, seeking four seats on the nation’s highest court. A bill to add judges is being introduced. Them. Abortion rights have been the most high-profile victim of the right-wing activism of the Trump-leaning court. In 2021, the court allowed a Texas law called SB8 to take effect, which prohibited abortion at six weeks of pregnancy. Roe v. Wade, Then in June 2022 the court overturned Roe deer In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Currently, a challenge to the availability of mifepristone, a drug used in medical abortions, is making its way to the Supreme Court and could reduce the availability of abortions nationwide.

“Our courts are supposed to protect and advance our rights, and instead, they are attacking our rights,” says Angela Vasquez-Giroux, vice president of communications and research at NARAL. with sb8, dobbsAnd now the mifepristone case, “those three things happening in such quick succession really made a case for how corrupt and how broken the judiciary is.”

Support of Planned Parenthood in particular may signal an important pivot point for the movement. “They play such a huge role in the reproductive rights space and in the Democratic electoral space,” says Brian Fallon, co-founder and executive director of Demand Justice, a court reform group that has pushed Supreme Court expansion for several years. His endorsement “makes it highly likely that this is going to become a consensus position in the Democratic Party within a short period of time.”

Dobbs “has created a public health crisis, but we’re really in a serious crisis for democracy,” says Jacqueline Ayers, senior vice president of policy, organizing and campaigns at Planned Parenthood. “It’s time for structural reform.”

Judiciary Act is received Some new co-sponsors since they were first introduced two years ago. A notable addition was Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, whose national profile rose while leading Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial. Rep. Adam Schiff, who played a similar role in Trump’s first impeachment, signed the legislation last year. This year, when he was running for Senate in California, he joined as a major co-sponsor. Rep. Katie Porter, who is also running for Senate in California, recently signed on. “It shows that if you are a Democratic candidate, you are more likely to join the cause and support this legislation,” Fallon says, noting that Raskin considering A Senate bid.

President Donald Trump added three justices to the Supreme Court, including one for the seat that then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell kept open for more than a year after President Barack Obama was denied an appointment. With a six-three conservative majority, the court leaned further to the right. In addition to eliminating abortion rights, last June the judges opened the door for states to ban firearms, limit environmental regulation, and pray in public schools. This month, the court further limited environmental regulations under the Clean Water Act. In June, it is expected to end affirmative action in higher education, allow businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ customers, and eliminate what’s left of the Voting Rights Act. For many progressives, this avalanche of right-wing regimes is a potential threat to their work and to the idea of ​​a multiracial democracy with equal rights for all. Adding judges to the court is the most expedient solution – although getting a bill through Congress is a long shot.

Ever since President Franklin Roosevelt attempted to add judges in the 1930s and faced political backlash, the idea of ​​packing the court has been considered taboo. But some lawmakers are now coming around to the idea, with the Judiciary Act counting 61 co-sponsors in the House. However, the most powerful and strong Democrats, including President Joe Biden and the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, remain unconvinced. The bill is far more popular in the House than in the Senate – the body that actually confirms federal judges. It has three co-sponsors in the upper chamber: Democrats Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Tina Smith of Minnesota. While it has a long way to go before it has a chance of success, the idea of ​​court reform, including expansion, has already outshined several potential ideas.

Fallon believes that the court’s recent ethics scandals revolve primarily around Justice Clarence Thomas. Relationship The GOP is encouraging megadonor Harlan Crow, along with Democrats and party allies, to target him in court. expansion of the Court is one approach, while the more mainstream proposal involves the establishment of a Code of conduct For Supreme Court Justices. “There’s absolutely no boundary between these people who have been put on the court for a particular reason and the people who were controlling them or who owned the business,” Vasquez-Giroux says. One revelation about Thomas came in the form of a photo of him smoking a cigar with Crowe and Leonard Leo, a fixture in the conservative Federalist society that has played a key role in shaping the makeup of the court. Leo, another report revealedSecretly gave tens of thousands of dollars to Justice’s wife, Ginny Thomas.

The growing number of scandals surrounding Thomas and some other conservative justices, Fallon says, “has created a sense that the court is troubled and that the focus on the court is a political winner.” The scandals “have led a lot of people who would otherwise have been reluctant to be there to criticize judges for taking off the gloves.”