Andrea Germanos Justice Politics

Elizabeth Warren Supports Push to Expand Supreme Court

Sen. Warren and other supporters of the expansion plan would like to add four SCOTUS justices to the lineup.
U.S. Supreme Court building.
 The west facade of United States Supreme Court Building at dusk in Washington, D.C. (Joe Ravi)(CC-BY-SA 3.0)

By Andrea Germanos / Common Dreams

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts announced Wednesday her support for expanding the number of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, warning that without such reform the court’s right-wing majority would “continue to threaten basic liberties for decades to come.”

“When a court consistently shows that it no longer is bound by the rule of law, Congress must exercise its constitutional authority to fix that court,” the Massachusetts Democrat wrote in a Wednesday Op-Ed in the Boston Globe.

Making her case for why Congress should exercise its constitutional authority to change the size of the court, Warren said Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) “hijacked” the court, referring to his 2016 “theft” of the seat President Barack Obama sought to fill with Merrick Garland and his 2020 move “breaking his own ‘rule’ barring votes on justices in an election year” when he rammed through right-wing Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation.

“This Republican court-packing has undermined the legitimacy of every action the current court takes,” she said, and the court itself “leans into extremism and partisanship.”

Warren backed up her assertion with a handful of recent cases:

This radical court has reversed century-old campaign-finance restrictions, opening the floodgates for corporations to spend unlimited sums of money to buy our elections. It has reversed well-settled law that once required employers to permit union organizers to meet with workers. It has trampled on the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection by upholding a racist Muslim ban. It has twisted the law to deny Americans their right to a day in court, despite the clear intent of Congress. And it has gutted one of the most important civil rights laws of our time, the Voting Rights Act, not once but twice.

Current cases before the court, which has a “supercharged” 6-3 conservative majority, affecting abortion rights, gun regulation, and the government’s ability to address the climate emergency make the case for expansion all the more clear, she said. 

“Conservative justices’ recent decisions and their apparent appetite to overturn decades of precedent underscore one important truth,” wrote Warren. “This court’s lawlessness is a powerful threat to our democracy and our country.”

In a video summing up her case for court expansion, Warren said she’s co-sponsoring Sen. Ed Markey’s (D-Mass.) Judiciary Act of 2021S.1141, which would add four seats, creating a 13-justice Supreme Court. The Senate bill has one other co-sponsor—Democratic Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota—while a companion measure in the House has 45 co-sponsors.

In a Wednesday tweet, Markey welcomed the development.

“The Supreme Court is broken with McConnell and [former President Donald] Trump’s stolen, far-right majority,” said Markey. “The movement to expand the court is growing and we are going to win.”

Warren’s announcement was also welcomed by Leah Greenberg, co-executive director of progressive group Indivisible.

“Sen. Warren knows what needs to be done,” she said. “It’s time for everyone to recognize that we can have a functioning democracy or we can have the current extremist-dominated court, but we can’t have both.”

Indivisible is among a number of organizations that have called for the court’s expansion. Another group, Stand Up America, reiterated its call last week after the Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to Texas’ abortion law brought forth by the Biden administration.

That decision, said the group’s executive director, Christina Harvey, “made clear the need for Congress and President [Joe] Biden to act on Supreme Court expansion—for the sake of rebalancing the ideological scale of the court and protecting our fundamental rights.”

Referring to the proposed Judiciary Act, she said, “It’s time for Congressional Democrats to make it a priority before it’s too late.”

10 comments

  1. I contribute monthly to Scheerpost but when I wish to read the comments to an essay , the comments are nowhere to be found. Only the form to give a comment. Sometimes I do not want to make a comment but only to read them. How come – as a paying subscriber- I cannot see them?

  2. “a liberal is a power worshipper without any power”. Orwell
    Karen wants to rig the rules of the game—cheat any way she can

  3. Who was Chair of the Senate Judiciary committee when Clarence Thomas was nominated? Joe Biden. Which party controlled the Senate when Thomas was nominated? Democrats. Why is it that Republicans much more often than not get what they want when it comes to who sits on the Court and the poor Democrats just never seem to get their way, even with a majority? The (very) senior Senator from California went out of her way to congratulate the Republican chairman after the hearings for Barrett’s nomination calling those hearings the best that she ever experienced! So much for Democrats putting up a fight against an outrageous nomination. And now Senator Warren chimes in. Democrats complain, like true politicians, but their complaints are only self-serving attempts to score political points. When the battles are being fought, Democrats are always eager to demonstrate their willingness to “compromise” rather than fight the good fight. The Republican party is despicable, but they at least are real up front about who they are. Democrats are only concerned about “messaging.” In other words, it’s not the substance of their work, it’s more a matter of just making it sound nice and convincing. As has become all to apparent, neither party represents the true interests of the vast majority of Americans.

    1. I totally agree but go one minor step further, the ENTIRE SYSTEM is broken and has failed consistently to represent the interest of the people, while it has always represented the interests of those rich white people who created it, and enacted laws to protect their club, or cabal. I have always said, I never agreed to these laws that were in place before I was born. And why can’t we change the system to make it fairer for all? Well, we all know the answer, and they will kill to keep it the way it is, just as they have killed third world leaders who refused to knuckle under to the demands of the US. Read the book “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” that will show you what the US is all about.

  4. Expanding the Supreme Court by four judges is not even a beginning, it is not worth the time.
    The Supreme Court accepts less than one percent of cases sent to it: it would need 900 judges, as much as the entire federal judiciary, just to do its usual worthless job in all cases sent to it.

    In addition, the judiciary has no checks and balances, internal or external, and is out of control as a result. It would need multiple redundant courts cross-checking decisions to work at all, and that would at least double and likely triple the number of judges needed.

    In addition, the judiciary is utterly corrupt, and will not be reformed by hiring more crooked lawyers to serve as racketeers for their political parties and corporate favorites. A completely different source of judge candidates is needed, not lawyer crooks who would rather take bribes from the rich than fees from the poor.

    Anyone who thinks that the judiciary works reasonably well has zero information about the judiciary, only the infantile mass-media propaganda that Santa Clause in solemn robes will save them from monsters. They will learn nothing about judicial corruption from mass media.

    For details, see
    https://www dot counterpunch dot org/2010/12/10/why-judicial-corruption-is-invisible/
    and
    https://www dot counterpunch dot org/2020/10/19/the-courts-v-democracy/

    1. Tocqueville observed that the most conservative force in american society is the legal occupation. only in the angloshere is precedent relevant; in all other nations reason is employed. That 2/3 of all lawyers live in USA is expected in “the ultimate trickster’s paradise” (Sacvan Bercovitch)

  5. More of the same is just the same old shit. And if empty games of arithmetic don’t grab you, there’s always that same old partisan political theater to pose choices among which wing of the ruling class is going to preside in judgement over demokracy.

    I’ve been hearing these kind of crap routines about this patrician institution longer than I care to remember. It’s only gotten worse over the years with lame liberal media extended from corporate mainstream to pseudo-alternative sources swallowed by philanthropic swine. Ruling class foundations’ control of controlled opposition certainly has expanded via nonprofits and NGOs and non-independent news and non-investigative journalism.*

    Common Dreams consistently warrants suspicion as one of the all too common fronts of controlled opposition. Not quite as intolerable as The Young Turds. But just as annoying as Thom Hartmann. This piece sounds like little more than an infomercial or press release from DP front group Indivisible.

    What will happen when constitutional controversies over the covid coup now in the lower federal courts reach this supreme point of power? Now there’s a political drama I’m going to watch carefully.

    But I’m not waiting, either, for any of the tricks the supreme sleight-of-hand artists handling the reputed ‘rule of law’ might pull out of their arses, given their historical track record of ‘discovery,’ ’eminent domain,’ and ‘treaty’ with First Nations peoples, or the ‘rights of property’ with African slavery, or the ‘rights of labor’ with wage slavery, or the ‘rights of personhood’ with corporations, or…on and on with the rationalization of injustice by the judiciary.

    Now’s the time for citizens of the world to stop waiting for breadcrumbs from the tables of power and revolt against the rules of law, or lack thereof, being established in the New Normal. If not now, never again, as far as “the masters of mankind” (Adam Smith) are concerned, will there be any need for even the slightest pretense of the rule of law over lands reduced to the claimed ‘right to rule’ by the monsters of class rule.

    Part 1: CIA’s Extraordinary Role Influencing Liberal Media Outlets Daily Kos, The Daily Beast, Rolling Stone
    https://default.salsalabs.org/Td9070028-876a-4a68-9445-06ad0c268c54/6ed6d624-35e3-403c-b944-c1c61b3a596c

  6. And then the next president or Congress expands the court because they don’t like it. Where does this end?

    The real solution would be to get rid of this disgusting practices of appointing judges for life and of appointing only corporate scum and prosecutors as judges. The judges serve a set number of years, then they may not serve as federal judges for at least that number of years. Ten years would be the maximum, maybe five would be better.

  7. Again, another boneheaded idea that a democrat and one who you might have thought knows better gains momentum. Since Erwin Chemerinsky long ago advocated the idea of limiting and eliminating life long appointments to supreme court judges, it seems the only practical and long over due way forward. Without this simple change I truly envisioned RBG as a hologram, long dead but kept alive to hold off the evil forces of republican ideas. There are some great Erwin videos and debates from the book TV and Youtube on this but as timing is everything here happens to be an article from this mornings LA Times: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/column-the-idea-of-expanding-the-supreme-court-to-blunt-its-right-wing-bias-gains-traction/ar-AARUQRi

  8. “any American that has not read Tocqueville is a twerp”. K Vonnegut jr
    in the “ultimate trickster’s paradise”. Sacvan Bercovitch where 2/3 of all lawyers on earth reside—-the most conservative force in American life (US legal profession) as tocqueville demonstrated, where liberty and justice have always been despised, it is farcical that this sleazy corporate lawyer receives attention…or any anti-intellectual lawyer…
    “the men americans most admire dare to tell them the most extravagant lies; the men they most despise try to tell them the truth”. HL Menkhen
    he predicted a moron would be installed as prez–it seems that emperor gates prefers the current senile idiot figurehead

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