In an interview on Sunday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) called for three far right Supreme Court justices to be impeached, on the basis that their votes to overturn Roe v. Wade violated pledges they made under oath in their confirmation hearings.
As Ocasio-Cortez raised on NBC’s Meet the Press, Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) have suggested that Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch lied in their confirmation hearings and in personal meetings with the senators about whether or not they would consider overturning Supreme Court precedents while serving as justices. Justice Amy Coney Barrett also pledged during her confirmation that she would uphold precedents.
“If we allow Supreme Court nominees to lie under oath and secure lifetime appointments to the highest court of the land…. there must be consequences for such a deeply destabilizing action and hostile takeover of our democratic institutions,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “What makes it particularly dangerous is that it sends a blaring signal to all future nominees that they can now lie to duly elected members of the United States Senate in order to secure Supreme Court confirmations.”
She continued to say that she believes that the justices should be impeached and that lying under oath is an “impeachable offense.”
Justice Clarence Thomas should also be impeached for recent controversies concerning his wife, conservative activist Ginni Thomas, Ocasio-Cortez said. “I believe that violating federal law in not disclosing income from political organizations, as Clarence Thomas did years ago, is also potentially an impeachable offense. I believe that not recusing from cases that one clearly has family members involved in, with very deep violations of conflict of interest, are also impeachable offenses.”
Only 15 federal judges have ever been impeached in U.S. history, none of whom were Supreme Court justices. Impeachment of judges is similar to the impeachment process for presidents; the House would vote on whether or not to pass articles of impeachment and the Senate would vote on conviction. If lawmakers like Manchin and Collins fail to hold the justices accountable, Ocasio-Cortez said, the death of federal abortion rights will also be a stain on their legacies.
But it would likely be impossible to get any of the far right Supreme Court justices removed without a Democratic supermajority in the Senate — and even then, with conservatives like Manchin in the chamber, it would be an uphill battle.
However, the current circumstances require an equally extreme response from Democrats, Ocasio-Cortez argued. “What we need to do is show the American people that when they give the Democratic Party power and when they actually do vote for us, that we will be using and we are willing to use the power that they do give us in order to merit increased expansions in our majority.”
She said that there are a number of actions that President Joe Biden can take even without congressional approval, like exploring opening reproductive care clinics on federal lands in states that have banned abortion or directing agencies to expand access to abortion pills.
The lawmaker pulled no punches over the weekend in her criticisms of mainstream Democrats’ calls to vote in response to the Roe overturn. The Democratic Party needs to step up in this moment and realize that it’s bigger than just abortion rights, she said.
“This is not just a crisis of Roe. This is a crisis of our democracy. The Supreme Court has dramatically overreached its authority,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “This is a crisis of legitimacy.”
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