In the aftermath of the devastating SCOTUS decision to deprive women of their right to choose, it’s now time to expand the court. It is, alas, much easier to say it than to do it, of course. But if ever there was a time to do it, now is the time.
There is nothing sacrosanct or even Constitutional about having nine SCOTUS justices. The numeric composition of SCOTUS has changed seven times in the history of the United States. The most recent attempt to change the composition of the court happened in 1937 when a legislative initiative was proposed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to add more SCOTUS justices. In the end, Roosevelt changed the composition of the court the old-fashioned way, one at a time, as members died or retired. But he tried to expand the court — and he came close to succeeding.
Unfortunately, the old-fashioned, patient approach to changing SCOTUS isn’t going to work this time. The current radical theocratic composition of the court is guaranteed for the next decade or more. That is not acceptable. Roe v. Wade must be restored.
Thirteen courts of appeals sit below the Supreme Court, so it would be natural to change the member composition of SCOTUS from nine to thirteen to reflect that number. As it happens right now, some justices must double up on courts of appeals to handle them all. So not only would thirteen be a likely number for the new, expanded Supreme Court, it would make for a more natural distribution of responsibility.
The news gets worse before it gets better, I’m afraid. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to enact legislation to ban abortions nationwide should Republicans return to power in November. So we have a war on two fronts. We must expand the courts and win in November.
The good news is, the recent SCOTUS decision is hugely unpopular. Sixty-four percent of Americans oppose the overturning of Roe. Let us hope that opposition translates to the election of pro-choice Democrats in November. It must if America is to survive as a nation.
Another thing that must be done is the elimination of the filibuster. In fact it’s the first thing that must be done, because the minority in the Senate has a better chance to prevent the expansion of SCOTUS with the filibuster intact. So once again Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema must be put under renewed pressure to get rid of this outmoded and racist relic from America’s shameful Jim Crow past.
The last time America was this deeply divided was in the run up to the Civil War. The repeal of Roe represents an unprecedented challenge to America’s survival. Indeed, it is one of America’s darkest hours. SCOTUS has only just begun to flex its cryptofascist muscles. You can depend on it that they will go after other American civil rights along the way, including same sex marriage and transgender rights. Failure to stop them is not an option. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.