Dems Threaten Supreme Court: 'Heal' or Face Drastic Restructuring

'The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it'

Getty Images
August 14, 2019

Several Senate Democrats have issued a strong threat to the Supreme Court if it does not rule in ways Democrats find favorable: "Heal itself," or face restructuring.

The group, which includes five Democratic senators, made the demand in the form of an amicus brief filed in a court case regarding New York City gun laws. Presidential candidate and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) joined Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D. R.I.), Richard Blumenthal, (D., Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii), and Richard Durbin (D., Ill.) in signing on to the brief.

The brief blasts the court as overly partisan and too friendly to conservative causes. It claims the court has influenced "sensitive areas" including "voting rights, partisan gerrymandering, dark money, union power," and civil rights and discrimination issues in the workplace, among others. "Every single time, the corporate and Republican political interests prevailed," it reads.

"Obviously, the Court is not standing back in dispassionate form and 'calling balls and strikes' when it is laying the groundwork for future policy changes or soliciting opportunities to change policy," it continues.

The brief blasts interest groups like the NRA and the Federalist Society for influencing the court's appointments and decisions, and specifically names several conservative justices including Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.

"The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it," the brief threatens. "Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be 'restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.'"

The language regarding "restructuring" refers to a Quinnipiac poll, according to Fox News. The poll found that 55 percent of respondents believed the Court is motivated by politics, while 38 percent believed it was motivated by the law. Thirty-five percent said the court is too conservative, 16 percent said it was too liberal, and 39 percent said it was "just right."

In a question that asked, "Do you think that the Supreme Court should be restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics?" a slight majority, 51 percent, said yes, while 39 percent said no.

Calls to restructure the Court via a method such as adding more justices to the court, known as "court-packing," have received mixed responses from Democratic figures. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she opposes expanding the number of justices beyond nine due to concerns that the move would make the Court more partisan.

Democratic candidates Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke and Mayor Pete Buttigieg have both endorsed the idea of court-packing. Sens. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), Andrew Yang, and Gov. Jay Inslee (D.) have also expressed that they are open to the idea.