Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice, recently said that the Court’s conservative supermajority has trampled long-settled precedents and forced an unrecognizable reading of the Second Amendment onto a country already reeling from gun violence.
“The Court’s jurisprudence is about as far from judicial restraint as it has been in at least a century,” Waldman said. “To make matters worse, some of the justices have flouted plain ethical norms.”
Waldman said that the public is hungry for reform, noting that a recent poll found that 69% of Americans support term limits for Supreme Court justices.
“Our leaders are clearly trailing public opinion on Supreme Court reform,” Waldman said. “But I’m hopeful that the era of cowering before the Court is coming to an end.”
Waldman’s comments come as several Democratic lawmakers have introduced bills to impose term limits on Supreme Court justices. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) have both introduced legislation that would limit justices to 18 years on the Court.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has also approved a bill to require the Court to adopt a code of ethics.
Republicans have opposed all of these reforms, arguing that they would undermine the independence of the judiciary.
However, proponents of reform argue that term limits and a code of ethics are necessary to restore public confidence in the Supreme Court.
“Term limits turn out to be popular with conservatives and progressives, Democrats, Republicans, and independents. They are reclaiming a long tradition in which the political system properly debates how to hold to account the very, very unaccountable Court,” said Waldman.
“The Court has become too political,” said Waldman. “Term limits and a code of ethics would help to depoliticize the Court and make it more accountable to the American people.”
“In July, the Brennan Center and Benenson Strategy Group polled 808 likely voters about their attitudes toward the Supreme Court and their support for reform. What we found was the nearest thing to consensus you can expect in a hyperpolarized era,” said Waldman. “More than three-quarters of participants favored a code of ethics for the justices, including 72 percent of independents and 58 percent of Republicans. Sixty-nine percent supported imposing an 18-year term limit on Supreme Court justices, including 58 percent of independents and 48 percent of Republicans. The public appetite for reform is strong and bipartisan.”
“Court-packing was the only of the three reforms that did not garner majority support, reflecting the persistent taboo dating from the Franklin D. Roosevelt era,” said Waldman.
The fight for Supreme Court reform is likely to be a long one. However, the growing public support for reform suggests that it is a fight that is worth having.
State Politicians Play Key Role in Putting Arch-Conservative Justices on State Supreme Courts
In addition to the federal level, state politicians also play a key role in putting arch-conservative justices on state Supreme Courts.
In many states, Supreme Court justices are elected by the people. This means that state politicians can use their influence to support or oppose candidates.
In recent years, conservative groups have spent millions of dollars to support conservative candidates in state Supreme Court races. This has helped to put conservative majorities on the Supreme Courts of many states.
The consequences of this conservative shift have been significant. In many states, conservative Supreme Courts have struck down laws that protect abortion rights, voting rights, and other important rights.
The role of state politicians in putting arch-conservative justices on state Supreme Courts is a major reason why many people are calling for reform at the state level.
Some states have already taken steps to reform their state Supreme Courts. For example, California and Michigan have both adopted merit selection systems for selecting Supreme Court justices. Under merit selection, a commission of experts reviews candidates and submits a list of qualified nominees to the governor. The governor then selects one of the nominees to serve on the Supreme Court.
Merit selection systems are designed to keep politics out of the selection process and ensure that only the most qualified candidates are appointed to the Supreme Court.
Other states are considering reforms such as term limits and public financing for state Supreme Court campaigns.
The reform movement at the state level is still in its early stages. However, it is a growing movement that has the potential to bring about significant change.
The fight for Supreme Court reform is both a federal and state issue. The decisions made by the Supreme Court have a profound impact on the lives of all Americans. It is important to hold the Court accountable and ensure that it is fair and impartial.