30 June 2023

The court, the oh-so-undemocratic Court

    Courts are inherently not democratic institutions, but it seems to me that when, through a profoundly anti-democratic campaign lasting decades, a high court is stacked with extremists, whose views and decisions are consistently well outside what at least 3/4 of the people regard as just and moral, the governance of that republic can not really be said to be operating on democratic principles. It is too much of a compromise. "America is a compromised republic, where one of the key branches of government is representative of a tiny elite and is willing and eager to impose its policies, despite the opposition of 75% of the public." Like the sound of that? I don't. We must resist. 

There is precedent, principally during Reconstruction, when the Congress exercised its rightful Constitutional power to determine policy, and, particularly, to determine the makeup and jurisdiction of the courts. In recent decades there is a false blanket of tradition, wherein the Court can't be challenged (or even, it seems, be made subject to the most fundamental of ethical rules). Time for that to end. We must take charge of the court, first within the existing Constitution. Impeach miscreants like Alito and Thomas on quite valid grounds of ethical improprieties. Add 4 new seats. Remove the power of the court to restrict the right to vote (this can be done by statute, as reflected in a legal opinion by CJ Roberts himself written while working as a OLC lawyer for Reagan in the early 80s). Outlaw gerrymandering nationwide by statute (tricky, but legally feasible). Declare a right of a woman to control her body, including the right to end a pregnancy up to viability, as medically determined. 

If and when we are able again to amend the Constitution, impose a ten year limit for all Federal judges, no exceptions (except maybe the 10 years starts again if elevated to the CofA or the SC). Create explicit rights to privacy, and, as far as possible, to medical care, to access to food and housing, to a safe environment and sustainable livelihood.

I won't add in ending the Electoral College or the grossly disproportionate representation in the Senate, as these issues are separate from the Court issues, but it's all of a piece: reinforce and augment democracy, including ditching undemocratic provisions in the Constitution where necessary. The current historical impasse on amendments will not last forever. 

We need to not only restore our democratic-principled republic, by wresting power from the elitist court, but also to improve it, to make it more democratic than ever, more robust, more dedicated to the principle that governance must ultimately be with the consent of the governed, and that government does indeed have a role in "promoting the general welfare," which takes precedence over elite privilege when the two are in conflict. 

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