Overhaul Supreme Court Before Supreme Court Overhauls America, Michigan Leaders Warn

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan Executive Director Nicole Wells Stallworth speaks at a press conference in Detroit with former Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards (left) and US Rep. Rashida Tlaib (center).

By Kyle Kaminski

May 3, 2023

US Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) is calling for sweeping Supreme Court reforms—including adding more judges—to counteract extreme right-wing politics in the nation’s highest court.

DETROIT—Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) thinks it’s time to make some major changes to the US Supreme Court, contending this week that it no longer represents the “best interests” of the people, and therefore poses a threat to the survival of American democracy.

“We can’t expect our residents and citizens to have faith and really truly believe in the Supreme Court if we cannot hold them accountable. They must be ethical.” Tlaib said. “These justices are not acting in the best interests of the American people, as we all have felt over and over again.”

Tlaib and other advocates for reproductive freedom spoke at Central United Methodist Church in Detroit on Wednesday for the latest stop of the nationwide Just Majority campaign, which seeks to enact new ethics guidelines for the Supreme Court—in addition to adding more judges and creating term limits—in the wake of the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last summer. 

They said a growing list of extreme rulings from the nation’s highest court have eroded the rights of the American people—including Michiganders, even after voters cemented access to reproductive health care into the state Constitution with the passage of Proposal 3 in November.

“It’s time to reform the court so that it can again advance justice and equality—from reproductive justice and education, to loan reform and gun reform, and so much more,” Tlaib said. “We know this court has an influence over aspects of our lives that are so intimate and so close.”

Former Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan Executive Director Nicole Wells Stallworth also spoke out in favor of immediate reforms—including legislation to impose new term limits on the judges.

“The Supreme Court in the United States is no longer a source of justice. Women have had their most fundamental rights stripped away by the Supreme Court, and frankly, we’re all still living in fear of what could be next,” Richards said. “The Supreme Court is holding America hostage.”

READ MORE: What the Latest Abortion Pill Ruling Means for You

The Just Majority campaign is pushing for federal lawmakers (like Tlaib) to remedy the situation with legislation that adds additional judges to the court—which is currently dominated 6-3 by conservative judges, three of whom were appointed by former President Donald Trump.

Richards said installing additional judges could provide for more balance in future decisions, and prevent the court from following the same right-wing ideologies that ultimately led to most abortions now being banned in 14 states, with additional rights still on the chopping block.

“We lost this right (to reproductive freedom) because five members of the court decided that their political and religious views were more important than the health and well-being of women in America,” Richards said. “It is no longer safe to be a pregnant person in this country.”

She added: “The Supreme Court is holding America hostage. It’s beyond time to reform the court so that we can restore the faith of the American people, and advance justice and equality.”

US Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) speaks at a press conference in Detroit with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan Executive Director Nicole Wells Stallworth (left) and former Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards (center).

The call for judicial reforms has only grown louder following recent reports of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (and his wife) taking lavish, undisclosed gifts from a Republican donor, and Justice Neil Gorsuch not disclosing the sale of his home to a Supreme Court lawyer.

READ MORE: Clarence Thomas’ ‘Corruption’ Scandal Grows Even Bigger

Tlaib also reiterated a call for Thomas to be impeached over his shady business dealings.

“If we do not expand the court, these far-right justices will continue to strip us of our rights. They’ll continue to sell our democracy to their highest bidding, most wealthy friends,” Tlaib said.

Federal lawmakers could also help by creating a new code of ethics, which currently does not exist for the judges. That would curtail their “questionable behavior” by requiring them to report conflicting interests—and create consequences for when they step out of line, Tlaib said. 

Several recently introduced bills would require the court to adopt those new ethical standards, and also establish a body that could examine potential violations of those standards—though they’re unlikely to advance under Republican leadership in the US House. The Senate Judiciary committee is also holding hearings this week to examine the need for ethical reforms.

“The legitimacy of the court is eroding, and this court has continued to undermine our democracy. We must move with urgency,” Tlaib said—also encouraging Michiganders to contact their representatives in Congress and urge them to prioritize immediate Supreme Court reforms. “Doing nothing isn’t an option.”

Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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