Yes, It's Time To FIX The Supreme Court

The conservative Supreme Court has gone rogue. It has “cemented its place in history as the most radical Supreme Court ever,” in the words of historian Kevin Kruse. It handcuffed all federal regulatory agencies last week, and elevated the president to king on Monday. They’ve done so on behalf of the American oligarchs who have bankrolled the lavish lifestyle of at least two of the justices. They have also done so on behalf of twice-impeached convicted felon Donald Trump.

If there is any hope of salvaging our republic out of this mess, President Joe Biden and Democrats have to fight back, immediately, in the campaign and in action. That means setting aside the trust institutionalists like Biden and Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin have in the system and in the basic decency of people like Chief Justice John Roberts. It means directly taking on the corrupt court and making the case to the American people that it has to be stopped.

Biden made a start Monday evening, giving a short prime-time address to the nation to point out the “dangerous precedent” of placing “virtually no limits on what a president can do.”

“This decision,” Biden said, “has continued the court’s attack in recent years on a wide range of long-established legal principles in our nation, from gutting voting rights and civil rights to taking away a woman’s right to choose to today’s decision that undermines the rule of law of this nation.”

In perhaps the most chilling words a president has uttered since the Civil War, Biden starkly defined where we’re at as a nation. 

“[I]t will depend on the character of the men and women who hold that presidency that are going to define the limits of the power of the presidency,” he said, “because the law will no longer do it.” 

That’s Biden declaring that, as of Monday, we are no longer a nation under the rule of law because of a decision made by a court that is fundamentally corrupt—the essential backdrop to this momentously, historically awful term.

Start with Justice Clarence Thomas, whose corruption has been detailed in months of reporting from ProPublica: the undeclared luxury trips, gifts, and real estate deals; the cozying up to the Koch machine; his own extortion of the court and the oligarchs insisting that if he didn’t benefit financially, he would leave the court. There’s also his wife, Ginni, who not only plotted in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, but was rewarded by another billionaire—Leonard Leo—who funneled tens of thousands to her for consulting work. 

Not to be outdone in either the grift or the partisanship game, there’s Justice Samuel Alito. He was there for the luxury trips from hedge fund billionaires and the lavish trip to Rome to be feted for writing the decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. Like Thomas, Alito lets his spouse do his partisanship talk for him, or rather the flag-flying.

Then there’s Roberts refusing to even answer questions from the Senate about how these bought-and-paid for ideologues have tarnished the institution or to consider implementing a binding ethics reform to attempt to redeem the court.

And voters know it. Trust in the court plummeted after it overturned Roe to record lows, and it is not recovering.

So here we are. The only thing that can forestall the end of the republic is our vote and the hope that democrats—and Democrats—prevail in November in numbers that can’t be denied. Maybe then elected Democrats will fix this mess.

There are plenty of good ideas for reshaping the court from expanding it to imposing term limits to create a stable of justices that rotate in and out of the court. The solutions are there—Democrats need to embrace them. And run on them.

That can start with rallying around Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s impeachment resolution against the justices who perpetrated this “assault on American democracy.” No, it won’t move forward in a Republican-controlled House, but it can help unite Democrats for an immediate course of action should they regain the House.

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries echoed that, saying Democrats plan to “engage in aggressive oversight and legislative activity” to determine that “extreme, far-right justices in the [Supreme Court] majority are brought into compliance with the Constitution.”

The Senate has to take the lead in the coming months, and it has to come from Durbin, who failed in his first task of responding to the devastating ruling. He complained over spilled milk, that Thomas and Alito “brazenly refused to recuse themselves from this case.” He scolded Roberts for not using “his existing authority to enact an enforceable code of conduct.”

It’s a lot too late for that. Durbin and his colleagues need to get on the same page as House Democrats, because they actually are in an oversight position and need to start using it. No, they can’t fix the Supreme Court now, but they can start building the case for it. 

They have to win back the two elected branches, and one of the best ways to do it will be to put aside the niceties of institutionalism and comity and declare war on the unelected branch—the one that would make Trump king.

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Bloody Monday, every single Democrat should be talking about that—exclusively that. Enough hand-wringing over Biden’s debate performance. Enough speculation about replacing the top of the ticket. Enough Democrats in disarray. Too much is at stake now.

Tell the people—show the people—the danger the republic is in. How Democrats react now to what this court has done could make all the difference in November.

Republished with permission from Daily Kos.

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