The Supreme Court Needs Reforms But Not Expanded In Size!

By Donald A. Collins | 7 July 2023
Church and State

The front façade of the Supreme Court of the US. (Photo by Ian Hutchinson on Unsplash)

The Trump Supreme Court’s decisions continue to ignore and not to honor the treasured precedence of Stare decisis!

In particular one can cite the killing of Roe on June 24, 2022 and Affirmative Action in a flurry of controversial decisions this past week.

The July 5th page one Washington Post article entitled ”Biden faces renewed pressure to embrace Supreme Court overhaul” reports that Biden faces pressure to expand the number of Justices on the Supreme Court.

It is a superb example of balanced comprehensive analysis of the issue of court reform and the complexity of taking on the new reforms suggested by some Democrats.

Despite wishes from some liberal Democrats for various reforms, the article says, “Biden has harshly criticized the Supreme Court’s sharp pivot to the right, but he has stayed away from endorsing any of the broad array of reforms — including court expansion, term limits and mandatory retirements — that are being pushed by the left flank of his party and increasingly backed by core parts of his base.”

You can read the full Post piece here.

First, one can argue the unlikely ability to get the demands of these liberal Democrats legislated in the presently divided Congress.

One will immediately recall the failure of FDR, a highly popular President, to “pack the Court” by adding more Justices so he could appoint Justices who favored his views. Both parties rejected this attempt in administering Roosevelt a rare political defeat.

Less broad current reform ideas such as requiring ethical standards—including mandatory recusals in any case of conflict of interest—or setting a mandatory retirement age for Justices could prove difficult to impose but are certainly needed in light of the proven inappropriate behavior of Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

The Post article offers the options for change well, but the question remains when and how.

Evolution of majority views on favoring choice, LBGTQ rights, more gun control, and less racism have thankfully dramatically improved in my 92-year lifetime.

This far right Supreme Court in legislating from the bench deserves the low rating it earned from the public now widely confirmed by polls.

Examples abound (you can read the full list below) and while some have legitimate legal merit, the aggregate effect of these decisions shows the Court is seeking to move America back from the safe abortions available with Roe, lessening the chance to improve racial relations, while diminishing personal freedom and equity for the long underprivileged!

Here is the full list of Court decisions from the Post article.

Supreme Court’s halt on student loan relief isn’t end of Biden’s effort.

Supreme Court rejects Biden student loan forgiveness plan

Supreme Court protects web designer who won’t do gay wedding websites

Supreme Court rejects race-based affirmative action in college admissions

Supreme Court ruling restricts affirmative action in college admissions

How the Supreme Court ruled on affirmative action in the past.

Supreme Court’s ruling on online harassment outrages victims, advocates

Supreme Court says a conviction for online threats violated 1st Amendment

Supreme Court rejects theory that would have meant radical changes to elect…

Supreme Court strengthens protections for religious rights at work

Native adoptions can give priority to tribal families, Supreme Court rules

Supreme Court says White House can continue to set deportation priorities

Supreme Court: Alabama’s voting maps unfair to Black residents

Supreme Court rules for Jack Daniel’s in fight over poop-themed dog toy

How Supreme Court’s EPA ruling will affect U.S. wetlands, clean water

Supreme Court rules against Warhol Foundation in Prince photo copyright case…

Supreme Court weakens EPA power to enforce Clean Water Act.

Clearly the Court is vastly out of sync with its decisions in failing to recognize the evolution of our culture and the many prior decisions made before this Court that did not deserve to be changed.

So, what should Biden do to “reform the court” that might strengthen his chances for winning in November 2024?

Biden agrees as the Post piece as this quote shows:

“This is not a normal court,” Biden said last Thursday, later elaborating in an MSNBC interview that the court has “done more to unravel basic rights and basic decisions than any court in recent history.”

Despite his more forceful rhetoric about the court, Biden has shown little openness to major changes to its structure. He and others suggest that while expanding the court from nine to 13 or 15 justices could let him to populate it with more liberal jurists, there would be nothing to stop Republicans from expanding the court still further, and stocking it with ironclad conservatives, the moment they regained power. If we start the process of trying to expand the court, we’re going to politicize it, maybe forever, in a way that is not healthy,” Biden told MSNBC.

His further comments to MSNBC are equally sensible, adding “the court has “done more to unravel basic rights and basic decisions than any court in recent history.”

“If we start the process of trying to expand the court, we’re going to politicize it, maybe forever, in a way that is not healthy,”

A longtime colleague recently forwarded me a brilliant article about the frequently small impact for political gain of delivering good legislative benefits to constituents.

Read here the article entitled “The Death of Deliverism” where tells the frequent failure of good governance to win voters.

The article begins with these examples:

How could it be that the largest-ever recorded drop in childhood poverty had next to no political resonance?

One of us became intrigued by this question when he walked into a graduate class one evening in 2021 and received unexpected and bracing lessons about the limits of progressive economic policy from his students.

Deepak had worked on various efforts to secure expanded income support for a long time—and was part of a successful push over two decades earlier to increase the child tax credit, a rare win under the George W. Bush presidency.

His students were mostly working-class adults of color with full-time jobs, and many were parents. Knowing that the newly expanded child tax credit would be particularly helpful to his students, he entered the class elated. The money had started to hit people’s bank accounts, and he was eager to hear about how the extra income would improve their lives. He asked how many of them had received the check. More than half raised their hands. Then he asked those students whether they were happy about it. Not one hand went up.

Baffled, Deepak asked why. One student gave voice to the vibe, asking, “What’s the catch?” As the class unfolded, students shared that they had not experienced government as a benevolent force. They assumed that the money would be recaptured later with penalties. It was, surely, a trap. And of course, in light of centuries of exploitation and deceit—in criminal justice, housing, and safety net systems—working-class people of color are not wrong to mistrust government bureaucracies and institutions. The real passion in the class that night, and many nights, was about crime and what it was like to take the subway at night after class. These students were overwhelmingly progressive on economic and social issues, but many of their everyday concerns were spoken to by the right, not the left.

In short, the 2024 election is by no means a Biden shoo in despite the obvious authoritarian horror of the Trump years. This for our democracy is the most important election since 1860.

Those GOP power players who paid our elected government officials to take it all and took it, may suddenly realize that the 6th Extinction will trump their greedy plans for more!

Read here the Washington Post’s frightening 7/6/23 piece on climate disasters now occurring ever more dangerously.

Trump of course is on record for minimizing our environmental problems.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC, has spent over 50 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of “From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013”, “Trump Becoming Macbeth: Will our democracy survive?”, “We Humans Overwhelm Our Earth: 11 or 2 Billion by 2100?”, “What Can Be Done Now to Save Habitable Life on Planet Earth?”, “Vote”, “Can Homo Sapiens Survive?”, “Will Choice and Democracy Win?”, “Can Our U.S. Survive 8 Plus Billion of Us” and “Economic Growth: A Cancer on all Earthly Life”.

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