Exclusive: Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network backs Supreme Court reform

“Comprehensive reforms, such as an expansion to the bench, are crucial to rebuilding trust, safeguarding our rights, and reestablishing a fair and impartial court,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton.

National Action Network has partnered with Just Majority Coalition, a group of 30 activist organizations pushing for Supreme Court reform that includes expanding the number of justices on the bench and adopting a code of ethics.

“Americans have lost faith in the justice system because biased decisions and clear-cut corruption have seeped into the highest court in the land,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, president of New York-based National Action Network.

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The Rev. Al Sharpton speaks during a press conference outside Antioch Baptist Church in Buffalo, N.Y. on May 19, 2022. The civil rights leader’s National Action Network has joined a coalition seeking Supreme Court reform. (Photo by Joshua Bessex/AP)

In April, Just Majority launched a nationwide tour to demand changes the group says will combat misconduct and partisan rulings on the high court.

Sharpton will join the coalition during its stop in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, next week to discuss the possibility of the Supreme Court overturning the use of affirmative action in the school admissions process. 

“The Supreme Court can no longer serve as a fair check. Special interests have put democracy on the line by influencing judges who would roll back decades of precedents and protections in the blink of an eye,” read an exclusive statement from Sharpton. “Comprehensive reforms, such as an expansion to the bench, are crucial to rebuilding trust, safeguarding our rights, and re-establishing a fair and impartial court.”

Wanda Mosley, national field director of Black Voters Matter, told theGrio that she stands in solidarity with Just Majority and believes expanding the Supreme Court “will restore balance,” fairness and equality.

Mosley asserts that expansion would create “a fair and ethical court system that represents all of us and that includes Black and brown and marginalized communities.” She added, “And we don’t feel that we have that right now.”

This comes after revelations exposing alleged misconduct by three justices that call the court’s ethics into question. 

Chief Justice John Roberts’ wife earned millions of dollars after helping elite lawyers get cases heard before the Supreme Court. Justice Clarence Thomas failed to disclose lavish gifts he received from a billionaire. Just days after Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation, a law firm purchased property in which Gorsuch held a stake but that he and his partners had been trying to unload for almost two years.  

Last week, Just Majority made its first stop in Houston and held a press conference with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, Martin Luther King III, Shellie Hayes-McMahon, co-executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes and Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, a nonprofit civil rights advocacy organization, to discuss the need for Supreme Court reform that includes structural change. 

The Supreme Court building in Washington. Among the reformers advocates are seeking is an expansion of the bench from its current nine justices. (Photo by Alex Brandon/AP, File)

During the press conference, Lee told reporters that Americans “depend upon a fair and balanced United States Supreme Court.”   

“Why I’m a supporter of court expansion and the fairness in the court system is because the court that I look to the hills for, the ones that I admired, has now been caught up in a decisively conspicuous partisan divide,” said Lee.

Hayes-McMahon also spoke at the conference and said, “Our courts are now controlled by politically motivated judges and justices who are waging a relentless war, an assault on our freedoms already.”

“By implementing these necessary reforms,” she added, “we can reclaim the very essence of justice and ensure that our courts truly represent the people’s will.” 

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