Rep. Cori Bush calls Supreme Court ‘a cesspool of corruption’

Democrats reintroduce legislation that would expand by four the number of justices on the nation's highest court.

Democratic congressional members have reintroduced legislation that would expand the number of justices appointed to the Supreme Court in an effort to restore order and equality.

In recent months, some U.S. citizens on both sides of the political aisle have lost faith in the Supreme Court following the overturning of Roe v. Wade and in light of recent scandals involving a few of the court’s justices.

People stand outside the Supreme Court on April 21, after the court decided to preserve women’s access to a drug used in the most common method of abortion as a lawsuit continues. On Tuesday, a group of Democratic lawmakers again called for the expansion of the high court. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

On Tuesday, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., and Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., held a press conference to reintroduce the Judiciary Act in a bid to restore the public’s trust in the Supreme Court.

The legislation would place four additional justices on the nation’s highest court in an attempt to add political balance and ensure justice.

Johnson told reporters that the Supreme Court’s right-leaning justices “have spent years dismantling our democracy” and that this proposal would put an end to it.

“The court has descended into extremist politics and we need to save this arrogant court from itself. It has become too partisan so that it no longer reflects the country as a whole,” said the congressman.

“The Supreme Court is also trying to whitewash history by undoing the civil rights legacy and continuing to rule as if racism does not exist,” he continued.

Johnson stated that the proposed legislation to alter the number of justices appointed to the Supreme Court would be in line with past practices.

“Congress has changed the number of justices seven times throughout American history and it is clear to me that the time has now come to make that adjustment again,” he asserted.

Alencia Johnson, a senior adviser to Demand Justice, told theGrio that this bill is long overdue and would serve as a solution to the GOP’s efforts in recent years to “politically steal” seats on the Supreme Court.

“We can go all the way back to Merrick Garland, not having his seat. He’s a great attorney general, but he was supposed to be a Supreme Court justice. We can go back to Clarence Thomas when he faced accusations against him for sexual misconduct. Amy Coney Barrett, her nomination was rammed through less than two months before the last election,” she recounted.

“If there’s any political motivation it’s actually to get the politics…out of the courts and rebalance them,” Alencia Johnson maintained.

Hank Johnson first introduced the Judiciary Act in 2021 but it did not garner sufficient support. He believes this time the proposed statute has a better chance of being passed.

“I’m even more intent on the need for change and so are my colleagues. Last session when I introduced the Judiciary Act, we introduced it with only two co-sponsors. This year I’m introducing the Judiciary Act with 56 original co-sponsors in the House,” he said.

Rep. Cori Bush, speaking on Capitol Hill in 2021 in favor of a pandemic-related eviction moratorium. This week, the Missouri Democrat was on hand as colleagues reintroduced a bill to increase the number of Supreme Court justices. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Alencia Johnson told theGrio that Republicans will be up in arms about [the bill] and they’re going to give some crazy talking points to their base about how this is morally wrong.”

Even with the possibility that the legislation will face opposition from the right, she believes there is a chance that it could pass in the House and the Senate.

I think the people who care about certain issues, whether it’s abortion rights, making sure that we have comprehensive gun control…people who believe that you should be able to love and marry who you want to marry. People who believe these issues will actually be in support of this,” she stated.

Markey told reporters that the fundamental freedoms of all Americans are under attack at the hands of an “illegitimate far-right” Supreme Court.

“If we fail to act, it will only get worse. We must fix this broken and illegitimate court. …the American people have suffered,” he said.

“Pregnant people and their families feel the painful real-world consequences of the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade that took away a bedrock constitutional right” and “families have lost lives to the unrepentant scourge of gun violence,” he argued.

Markey said he believes the only way to combat this issue is to expand the court.

“Let’s start with undoing the Republicans’ thievery and adding four seats to the court,” he said.   

Reps. Cori Bush, D-Mo., and Adam Schiff, D-Calif., were also in attendance and stood in solidarity with their congressional colleagues.

Bush told reporters that the Supreme Court is a “cesspool of corruption and misconduct.”

“Justice Clarence Thomas failed to disclose lavish trips and gifts from a billionaire benefactor. Justice Neil Gorsuch sold his property to the head of a major law firm nine days after being confirmed. Chief Justice John Roberts’ wife raked in millions of dollars by placing lawyers in elite law firms with business before the court,” she said.

Bush contended that these may be only the scandals “we know about because of weak disclosure requirements and the lack of a binding code of conduct for Supreme Court justices. We have no idea how many other scandals are being covered.”  

Markey, in his remarks, urged that Thomas resign from his seat because of his decades-long relationship with a right-wing donor.

“[He] should resign from the Supreme Court of the United States. We have to remind him that we have a system of constitutional checks and balances. Not checks for balances,” he voiced.

Hank Johnson told reporters that if Thomas remains on the bench, the conservative justice “will erase rights for everyone except for himself.”

Supreme Court Justices Pose For Formal Group Photo
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas should resign because of his ties to a right-wing donor, Rep. Ed Markey said. (Photo by Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images)

“He will keep Loving v. Virginia intact while denying [others] the right to love who and how they want to love and he will use a wealthy donor’s private jet and super yacht. But he will take away your right to vote and your right to make decisions about your health care and this extremist court will go right along with him,” he insisted.

The Democratic lawmakers were joined by organizations like NARAL Pro-Choice America, League of Conservation Voters, Demand Justice and Take Back the Court Action Fund.

Jacqueline Ayers, senior vice president of policy, organizing and campaigns at Planned Parenthood, also attended the press conference in support of the legislation and stated that the country needs a Supreme Court “that reflects what the people actually want to see.”

“Courts are being used as a weapon to take away our rights and because of systemic racism, discrimination and other forms of institutional racism we are continuing to see all of these actions are disproportionately impacting people of color,” she said.

We know that your rights should not be determined by your ZIP code or what state a particular legislature has sent to this court to review. We know that the entire system needs to be able to take change,” she declared. 

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