For decades, corporate interests and the religious right have joined forces to purchase influence over the judicial nominating process in this country. From Reagan to Trump, the majority of Republican judicial appointments have been groomed by these interest groups to rule in their favor once they hold power, and that’s exactly what they have done. Some of the latest and most monumental Supreme Court decisions have been in stark contrast with the people’s interests. Recent SCOTUS decisions have allowed for unlimited dark money to control our electoral process, and have upheld Trump’s Muslim Ban, while weakening the Affordable Care and Voting Rights Act. We cannot achieve racial, social, or environmental justice as long as our courts are packed with pro-corporate religious zealots. We must make structural changes to our judicial branch.
It’s time to end lifetime appointments. It is preposterous that every time Ruth Bader Ginsberg is in the hospital, we are all holding our breath because Roe v Wade is on the line. With lifetime appointments, judges are able to pursue a political agenda and put their personal interests over the law. It’s crucial to depoliticize the courts and restore confidence in them as an independent actor. One idea would be to employ the same method we use for federal magistrate judges that serve term appointments that are subject to review and renewal.
We need to hold federal judges to a basic code of ethics. Justices Scalia and Alito wined and dined at an all-inclusive paid retreat with the Koch Brothers before ruling in their favor on Citizens United. Two years ago, Justice Gorsuch gave a paid speech at Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C. for corporate lobbyists. The next day, he joined the majority opinion to gut public sector unions. It’s time to ban the practice of allowing judges to take all-expenses-paid vacations by corporate benefactors along with the practice of giving lucrative paid speeches to the very corporations who stand to benefit from their decisions. The American people need to have faith judicial decisions are made with integrity.
Lastly and most importantly, we need to expand and balance the judiciary. Fifteen of the last nineteen Supreme Court Justices were appointed by Republican presidents despite the fact that in the last 30 years, the Republicans have only won the popular vote once. Special interest groups like ALEC and the Federalist Society have exerted their power to pressure the politicians who serve them to appoint extreme judges with hostile views towards labor, LGBTQ+ people, people of color, immigrants, and religious minorities. Mitch McConnell has made it his mission to pack the courts with as many of these extremists as possible. The next Democratic president should add four justices to the Supreme Court, expand the rest of the judiciary by a third, and appoint judges that look like America.
I am running for Congress to pass Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, Criminal Justice Reform, and get the corporate money out of our political system. None of that is possible unless and until we enact comprehensive judicial reform.