Can Congress Get It's Act Together to Reform the Court?

Part IV: History of the Supreme Court

Sam Chavez
Sam Chavez

Table of Contents

๐Ÿค“ Bite-Sized Knurd: The Supreme Court has been captured by right-wing extremists who are bent on ruling without the will of the people. Something must be done.

In Case You Missed It: The Three-Branch GOP Strategy to Limit Our Rights in the Courts


Right now, the Supreme Court watches over itself, or more specifically lacks any real oversight.

We see how well thatโ€™s been going!

With an 11% decline in trust in SCOTUS after the Roe v. Wade decision, Biden and the Democrats have a mandate to rebalance the branches of government. Legislation in Congress is all but impossible with the antics of Speaker McCarthy and his MAGA friends.

So how exactly is this going to happen?

It will happen in stages and a lot more can get done if we have a majority in Congress and a Senate willing to eliminate the filibuster to pass needed reform.

The organization, Demand Justice, is a national progressive organization solely focused on reforming the court system starting with the Supreme Court. They offer a four-step process.

While we need to demand the Supreme Court justices recognize the consequences of their radical activism on democracy and show restraint, thatโ€™s incredibly unlikely. Especially, seeing as the man in charge, Chief Justice John Roberts is also mired in scandal.

Legislation is where the real reform will come. We canโ€™t count on self-monitoring. Not with this court. It still doesnโ€™t hurt to demand a code of ethics and increased transparency, while we work on legislation.

Act Congress, Act!

It will take time to truly see reforms and a court that reflects the will of the people, but the solutions are here and ready for an actionable Congress.

Right now, there are three barriers to passing progressive reforms (& frankly most legislation).

  1. Win Back the House The slim 9-seat Republican majority in the House. There is no way Kevin McCarthy is bringing court reform to the floor.
  2. Abolish the Fillibuster Corporate Democrats wonโ€™t eliminate the filibuster. When the Senateโ€™s median age is 65 years old, theyโ€™re more tied to procedure than strengthening democracy.
  3. Expand Senate Majority Senate Judiciary Chair, Dick Durban has become 2023โ€™s Joe Manchin. Hereโ€™s a choice headline from him, โ€œDick Durbin Says Someone Should Do Something on Clarence Thomas, but Not Himโ€ (Weโ€™re all trying to find the guy that did this too! )

There are things that Congress could be doing now. They could first start with non-legislative solutions. Dick Durban could hold hearings and investigations on the allegations of corruption from the Supreme Court justices. When pressed on this in early May, he responded โ€œI think I know what would happen to that invitation. It would be ignored.โ€ Letโ€™s not mention that he could subpoena them to compel the justices to testify.

How incredibly frustrating! If youโ€™re a Democrat, itโ€™s really easy to pull our hair out right now, but the 2024 election is around the corner. Abortion, and therefore the Supreme Court, will be one of the top issues of the election. It is a motivating factor and has led to a ton of recent progressive victories. Plus the youth vote is surging and expected to be larger in 2024.

Legislative Reform

As frustrating as it is, legislation is not a legitimate solution right now. However, once we have a Democratic Congress, they must consider significant reforms to the court including term limits, new binding ethical restrictions, increased transparency, and fast-track procedures to ensure open seats do not go unfilled for political or ideological reasons.

  • Significant reform: term limits, new binding ethical restrictions, and increased transparency
  • Vacancy Rules create procedures to ensure open seats are filled quickly and fairly.
  • A Code of Conduct to pass clear laws and fines for ethical breaches, recusals, and financial disclosures

There is a lot more to read about court reform if youโ€™re interested. I highly encourage you to read through the Demand Justice website to read more about the work to restore balance and integrity to the Supreme Court.

๐Ÿ—ผ๐Ÿ—ž: Newsletter

Sam Chavez

Sam is a writer, strategist, and curious human. She founded the roots of change agency in 2020. Sam is a queer, white, LatinX activist whoโ€™s passionate about a livable planet & equitable societies.


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