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Progressive Caucus: Congress Is Obligated to Hold Supreme Court’s “Rogue Justices” Accountable

“We do not have to simply accept the devastation of these rulings,” said Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal speaks during a demonstration in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on December 1, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

Progressives in the House are calling for Congress to pass significant reforms to the Supreme Court after far right justices handed down a deluge of extremist decisions that threaten a wide range of rights and could jeopardize American democracy itself.

In a statement on Tuesday, Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington) said that lawmakers have an “obligation to respond” to right-wing Supreme Court justices in the wake of decisions in cases like Dobbs v. Jackson, which overhauled abortion rights in the country.

The statement raises alarm over a number of decisions that the Supreme Court has made in just the past few months, some of which overturned centuries-old precedents. The Supreme Court ruled last month in Egbert v. Boule, for instance, that federal law enforcement officers essentially have immunity in cases in which they violate constitutional amendments in the 100-mile border zone. In April, the Supreme Court decided in an eight to one decision that Puerto Ricans do not have the right to the same disability benefits that mainland U.S. residents do.

Jayapal criticized the Court over its decisions to protect public school employees’ ability to compel students to join them in prayer on school property and bar people on death row who received ineffectual legal defense from presenting new evidence to show their innocence.

She also listed recent rulings to protect police from being sued if they don’t read a person their Miranda rights, threaten tribal sovereignty by allowing states to prosecute crimes on Native American land, allow the CIA to block information about their torture methods from being released, and much more.

“The list of precedents nullified and democratic institutions and principles this Supreme Court gutted or fully overturned this term is horrifying,” Jayapal said. The lawmaker warned that the Court’s tirade isn’t done; the Supreme Court is set to hear a case that could allow politicians to draw gerrymandered maps, and Justice Clarence Thomas has said that gay marriage and contraception access may be next on the chopping block.

“These extreme decisions are the result of a decades-long project to stack the bench with adherents to a right-wing agenda and overrule precedent and the will of the American people. The majority has made clear it has no concern for ethics,” Jayapal said, pointing out that several Supreme Court justices allegedly lied during their confirmation proceedings about whether or not they’d uphold landmark precedents like Roe v. Wade.

The lawmaker concluded by calling for Congress to pass several bills. First would be the Judiciary Act, which would add four seats to the Supreme Court to combat the GOP’s court packing. Second, she named the Supreme Court Ethics Recusal and Transparency Act, which would bind the Supreme Court to a code of ethics and place transparency standards on dark money and lobbying interests. And finally, she called for the passage of the Judicial Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act in order to force justices to justify decisions on whether or not to recuse themselves from cases and ban justices from trading individual stocks.

“We do not have to simply accept the devastation of these rulings,” Jayapal said. “We must hold these rogue justices to account.”

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