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Thu Sep 24, 2020, 10:32 AM

The US supreme court has become a threat to democracy. Here's how we fix it

The US supreme court has become a threat to democracy. Here's how we fix it
Sabeel Rahman

The court has been weaponized to skew political power and insulate extreme conservative coalitions from accountability

(Guardian UK) Just a few days after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, Donald Trump and Senate Republicans are moving quickly to appoint and confirm a replacement. A growing number of moderates, such as Eric Holder, are warning that should Republicans ram through an appointment, this fact, plus the deliberate blockade of Barack Obama’s appointment of Merrick Garland in 2016, would justify a new Democratic administration and Congress to add seats to the supreme court to restore balance.

With voting already under way in the 2020 election, a rushed appointment and confirmation in this moment would be a clear partisan power play, and further collapse the legitimacy of the supreme court. But more broadly, the firestorm over Justice Ginsburg’s replacement is a reminder of how the modern supreme court has too much power in the first place. It is critical that our democracy reform agenda also consider how to reform the judiciary.

First, courts have too much power to radically remake our social and economic life. If this latest Trump appointment goes through, the resulting 6-3 far-right majority on the supreme court would have the power and opportunity next month to invalidate the Affordable Care Act (in the middle of a deadly pandemic). They would be positioned to further gut voting rights, reproductive rights and rollback anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ and Black and brown Americans, while further shielding police departments and immigration officials from accountability for racist state-sponsored violence against people of color. While courts have at times also ruled in more progressive directions to advance rights and equity, on balance this concentration of power without sufficient accountability is a threat to democracy – and to the ability of our communities to thrive.


Second, we need to protect democratic politics from being upended by the idiosyncrasies of an individual justice, or the randomness of when a justice might step down or pass away. That means regularizing the replacement process by establishing fixed and staggered term limits for justices. We could also expand the size of the supreme court, and move to a model akin to circuit courts of appeals, where cases are heard by randomly drawn smaller panels, with an option to appeal to the larger full circuit. ..........(more)


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Reply The US supreme court has become a threat to democracy. Here's how we fix it (Original post)
marmar Sep 2020 OP
TreasonousBastard Sep 2020 #1
lagomorph777 Sep 2020 #2

Response to marmar (Original post)

Thu Sep 24, 2020, 11:38 AM

1. All very interesting, but it was the Supreme Court which gave us Brown vs BoE and Roe...

in the first place. And then it was slammed for legislating from the bench and being too liberal.

I don't like what's happening any more than anyone else around here, but the Court suffers from the same ebb and flow as legislators do. Throughout our history, it has subtly followed the political trends of the day.

The Hughes court threw out FDR's first New Deal programs, but as the Depression wore on and public sentiment changed, along with a justice or two, it generally supported FDR. Later on, adding Douglas and Black to the Court made it indelibly liberal. And Hughes was fine with that.

So, while I bemoan the Garland situation, and the possibility of a young conservative on the Court, I do not think it is the end of the world.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Thu Sep 24, 2020, 03:44 PM

2. Yes, expand SCROTUS, establish term limits, expand the Federal bench.

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