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Sanders: Supreme Court Is “Out of Control” and Must Be Reformed

The senator criticized the “right-wing, corporate-sponsored Supreme Court” for its clear “extremist agenda.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders participates in a rally in support of Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman's re-election campaigns on June 22, 2024, in Bronx, New York City.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) has called for the Supreme Court to be subject to “real” reform after over a decade of right-wing rulings from a bench that has been captured by deep pocketed far right interests has put the U.S at the precipice of a deep plunge into fascism.

Sanders called out the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision for ushering in a “corrupt, billionaire dominated political system” and more recent decisions removing abortion protections; criminalizing homelessness; totally defanging the federal government’s ability to regulate; and, on Monday, granting the president an unprecedented amount of power without consequence.

“These are just some of the dangerous rulings from a right-wing, corporate-sponsored Supreme Court that continues to serve an extremist agenda,” Sanders said.

“If these conservative justices want to make public policy, they should simply quit the Supreme Court and run for political office,” he continued, reiterating observations that the Supreme Court is legislating from the bench as it has concentrated power within the conservative-dominated judiciary branch and trampled over the separation of powers.

Calls for Supreme Court reforms and overhauls have reignited following the Supreme Court’s democracy-shattering presidential immunity ruling as experts warn of the immense and dangerous amount of power now vested in the executive branch, with a nakedly partisan Court poised to support a fascist Donald Trump presidency in whatever horrific actions his administration could dream up.

“At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, billionaire control of our political system, and major threats to the foundations of American democracy, it is clear to me that we need real Supreme Court reform,” Sanders said. “A strong, enforceable code of ethics is a start, but just a start. We’ll need much more than that.”

Sanders has previously supported ideas to rotate Supreme Court justices into federal courts in order to get around lifetime appointments if Congress refuses to implement term limits for justices.

Other Democrats have reupped calls for Supreme Court expansion — adding seats to the Supreme Court to dilute the power of the current right-wing supermajority on the bench.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) gestured to this proposal in a statement about the immunity ruling. In 2023, he and a bicameral group of Democrats reintroduced their bill to add four seats to the Court. The Court has had nine members since 1869, although Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to add four justices in the 1930s.

“This is a rogue, untethered, and damaging Supreme Court,” Markey said. “Today’s ruling is devastating to our democracy. We must reclaim the stolen seats, restore balance and legitimacy to the Court, and begin to undo the damage the MAGA Republican party has wrought.”

Senators Tina Smith (D-Minnesota) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), both sponsors of the bill, outright called for Court expansion.

“Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell stole two seats on the Supreme Court, and we’re living with the consequences,” Warren wrote on social media on Tuesday. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s time to expand the Court.”

“This Supreme Court is beholden to right-wing groups and the billionaire mega-donors that fund them,” Smith said. “The Supreme Court is broken. The remedy is clear. Expand the Court.”

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