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Fed-up Washington Democrats are renewing a push to “pack” the Supreme Court with justices that will undo the current conservative majority.
Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey leads the charge to reintroduce the Judiciary Act, which would add four seats to the Supreme Court.
“The only question is, are we going to stand up to the bullies? Are we going to try to restore the balance that did exist before they engaged in this ahistorical thievery of two Supreme Court seats? I don’t think we have a choice,” Markey said last week on the steps of the Court.
We asked Boston.com readers if they agree with the calls to add more justices to the bench and most of the 393 people polled said yes, Democrats should do what they need to do to expand the Supreme Court.
Public opinion of the Supreme Court is at a historic low after the Dobbs v. Jackson ruling to end the federal guarantee of the right to abortion. Also negatively impacting the Court’s reputation are allegations of unethical practices, particularly by Clarence Thomas, a conservative Justice who has been accused of accepting large sums of money and lavish gifts from GOP megadonor Harlan Crow.
In July, after the Court handed down the Dobbs decision, as well as rulings that expanded gun rights, allowed prayer in public school settings, and limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to curb power plant emissions, Boston.com readers shared their lack of confidence in the Supreme Court.
“I’m speechless about the hard right turn the court has taken and fear for my children’s future,” Annie from Cambridge said at the time.
Markey and his supporters argue that allowing the Court to continue as is could lead to a harder push to the right should Republicans regain control of the White House. Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is set to announce his 2024 election bid Wednesday, has floated the idea of a 7-2 conservative majority on the Supreme Court.
Despite the growing concerns about the legitimacy of the Court, some readers think adding judges is too drastic a move and should only be considered as a last resort.
“The Dems have lost the Supreme Court through their own ambivalence. It is an indisputable fact that the Court in no fashion represents the more liberal leanings of the populace, yet through their own short-sightedness, we now have a set of underqualified radical judges legislating their own theocratic agendas from the bench. And the problem persists down into the federal court system too,” said Mitch from Boston. “Packing the court would be rewarding the Dems falling asleep at the wheel but, unfortunately, it seems to be the only way to save the country from some truly regressive and ill-conceived decisions.”
Below you’ll find responses from readers sharing their thoughts on packing the Supreme Court and if Democrats should try to tilt the judicial branch back towards their favor.
Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
“The Court was already packed by Republicans and is not representative of the people, nor do they feel tethered to precedent. Corruption abounds and they are entirely unaccountable. It’s long past time to expand the Court, institute an enforceable code of ethics, and remove all compromised Justices.” — Craig, Norfolk
“We need term limits and a code of ethics that includes mandatory penalties for infractions. Don’t want any more crooks at the top of the American judiciary system. Clarence Thomas has certainly and knowingly broken the American ‘unwritten code of ethics’ — financially, at least.” — C. Leary, Lakeville
“I used to be against the notion of packing the Supreme Court but not anymore. The Court is clearly corrupt and without any checks or balances, which is bad enough, but also its rulings are undermining our very democracy. Pack the Court ASAP and dilute the impact of these corrupt and extremist judges!” — Laura, Melrose
“It is too political and not doing its job. There are numerous conflicts of interest and acceptance of gifts. Change is needed.” — Holly, Framingham
“There have been at least two justices confirmed in recent years. The majority of justices have prioritized their focus on GOP talking points like abortion, gun rights, public funding, religious schools, Trump’s tax returns, and immigration. They have become a political arm for the GOP, as is evidenced by Clarence Thomas’ inappropriate acceptance of unreported ‘gifts’ from a single donor, coupled with his wife [allegedly] accepting laundered funds for Liberty Central. She’s a lobbyist for the right, married to a Supreme Court Justice. The other conservative justices are just as transparent in their efforts to push their far-right agenda. Since the Justices have failed at self-governing themselves for ethics, the only counter to that can be adding 4 new justices to the Court to balance out the power and represent all the people. This is probably more important than anything else we do relating to the Supreme Court.” — Carly R., Chelmsford
“The current Court has shown the nation why standards of ethics are required for all public servants. Members of the Court are (now) openly corrupted by bribery and they are willing to debase themselves and the Court in service of their theocratic, white supremacist beliefs.” — Adam S., North Reading
“Pointless. Add four seats now and then when the Republicans eventually retake office they’ll add six. And then after that, they’ll just keep going until eventually your neighbor or your friend’s mom ends up on the Court. The Supreme Court has lost a lot of credibility over the years, yes, but agreeing to this nonsense will leave it with literally zero.” — Conor, South Boston
“Adding additional justices to the Court, so-called ‘court packing,’ is dangerous and destabilizing. It would prompt an escalation of further packing the Court when Republicans can do so. This overt politicization of the Court would actually legitimize it, creating essentially a super-legislature for aggrieved groups and individuals who cannot get their way with the democratically elected legislature (Congress). Very bad idea.” — Ted L., Newburyport
“Expanding the Court is the wrong move. This is not a country of two parties, it is a country of one, diverse, united people. We must lower the temperature.” — Willy S., Duxbury
“More is not better! It might be more helpful to have a public discussion about these being lifetime appointments. It is certainly not clear that is what our Constitution had in mind.” — Dave, Winthrop
“The Democrats want to change the rules when they don’t get their way, which means pushing their radical agenda down the throats of all Americans. They are attempting to undermine an American institution like the Supreme Court and there should be no yielding to their radical agenda, period.” — Frank F., Dartmouth
Boston.com occasionally interacts with readers by conducting informal polls and surveys. These results should be read as an unscientific gauge of readers’ opinion.
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