Why Democrats Should Embrace Court Reform
The recent Supreme Court decisions demand a bold and aggressive response.
In the last week or so, a Supreme Court with five Justices appointed by Presidents who received fewer votes than their opponents did the following:
Made America’s gun problem much worse by creating a heretofore unknown and non-existent constitutional right to carry a gun in public;
Rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in modern history by overturning Roe v. Wade; and
Sided with polluters, gutting the federal government’s ability to fight climate change and ensure access to clean air and water.
The Supreme Court took a nonsensical, extremist howitzer (which they believe you have a right to bring to the grocery store) to the nation’s psyche. Our ability to deal with our most pressing problems and protect the lives and freedom of our population is dwindling. These deeply damaging decisions have led to very understandable fury and frustration among Democratic voters. We are angry our leaders were unable to prevent it from happening and seem unprepared to respond to something that we knew was coming for months (if not years). Some of the anger manifested itself in a pushback on Democrats urging people to vote as a response to these Supreme Court rulings. “You told us to vote in 2018 and 2020. We did and delivered you the House, Senate, and White House, yet you couldn’t even protect Roe.”
I really do understand these sentiments; especially after so many Democrats guaranteed passage, but failed to deliver voting rights legislation and Biden’s climate and jobs agenda. Ultimately, there is no other option. In fact, convincing Democrats to disengage from politics is the primary strategic objective of the Republican Party. Sowing cynicism in the political process is how authoritarians all over the world seeded the ground for their eventual takeover.
If Democrats are going to once again turn to our weary voters and ask them to vote like their democracy depends on it, we must be specific and give them something to vote for. We need a plan and I believe that plan should include Supreme Court reform.
Mistaken Hesitancy and Risk Aversion
I have been a longtime advocate for Supreme Court reform, including expanding the number of seats on the court. I have worked with Take Back the Court, a leading court expansion advocacy organization, since 2020. In other words, I am far from an unbiased observer on these issues, but I came to believe in the necessity of reform after the Roberts Court deeply damaged our democracy with the Citizens United and Shelby County decisions followed by Mitch McConnell’s theft of a Supreme Court seat. Support for Court reform has grown dramatically in the last few years. Still, much of the Democratic leadership has kept it at arm’s length even though it is the only way to rebalance the Court. The Democratic hesitancy can be summed up in a Reuters article that suggested the Biden White House was unlikely to embrace the more aggressive responses to the Dobbs ruling. This is the ruling being proposed by some Democrats including Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Biden and officials are concerned that more radical moves would be politically polarizing ahead of November's midterm elections, undermine public trust in institutions like the Supreme Court or lack strong legal footing, sources inside and outside the White House say.
This quote set Twitter on fire with Democratic activists and progressive media types raging at the President and his party. I do think we should take this quote with a grain of salt. These are not the words of a specific White House official. They are the reporters’ summary of sentiments offered by a collection of anonymous officials– some of whom don’t even work for Joe Biden and are unlikely to have any insight into the White House’s decision-making. I hope the White House speaks out publicly and on the record with stronger language ASAP. With that being said, fears of inciting the MAGA base and violating norms drive too much decision-making. And outdated thinking will be the death of us. Those fears make no sense in a world where the MAGA base is perpetually at an 11 and the Republicans are standing by a former President who incited a violent mob. Additionally, they are openly plotting to steal the next elections. Beyond the foolishness of pearl-clutching, these fears are not even borne out of polling.
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