GovernmentThe White Plains Examiner

Bowman Calls for Reforms to Supreme Court Citing Decisions, Ethics

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Congressman Jamaal Bowman urges changes to the Supreme Court on Sunday in White Plains.

Congressman Jamaal Bowman (D-Yonkers) called for reforms to the U.S. Supreme Court that would increase the number of judges, eliminate the lifetime appointment and enact an ethics code for its members.

Bowman, joined by former congressman Mondaire Jones and Fred Guttenberg, a pro-gun control activist whose daughter was one of the 17 students and staff members killed at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. in 2018, said rights and protections that had been fought for over generations are being reversed by a far-right Supreme Court holding a 6-3 supermajority.

“This fight is essential, this fight is urgent, this fight is necessary and this is a fight that we are going to win,” Bowman declared at a Sunday press conference in White Plains. “And the way we’re going to win it is to make sure we vote the right people into office and vote the wrong people out of office. That includes the House of Representatives, but that also includes the U.S. Senate.”

The press conference was one stop on what is the Just Majority bus tour to demand Congress makes changes to ensure a fair and ethical Supreme Court.

Bowman said the high court has made decisions that are taking away rights including abortion in some states after reversing Roe v. Wade in last year’s Dobbs decision. It is also making the country more dangerous, including New York, with its decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. That ruling overturned the Sullivan Act, a law that stood for 110 years requiring that applicants apply for and obtain a license to carry a concealed firearm.

In 2013, Bowman argued the court weakened the 1965 Voting Rights Act by striking down a requirement of jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to consult the federal government when making revisions to its voting. In the years since, a growing number of states are passing restrictive voting measures.

Last year, Bowman co-sponsored legislation that would have increased the Supreme Court from nine to 13 members, saying that the institution hasn’t kept up with a growing country.

Its recent ethics issue with Justice Clarence Thomas has also highlighted how more accountability is needed for its members.

“The Supreme Court hasn’t evolved in quite some time, and it can’t even effectively do its job right now because it doesn’t have the capacity to hear all the cases that come before it,” Bowman said. “So because our population has grown and our democracy continues to evolve, it should expand simply for that reason, just so it can operate effectively and efficiently.”

Jones, who was redistricted into Bowman’s 16th Congressional District after serving one term in the House before running unsuccessfully in New York City, said changing the number of Supreme Court justices is not a radical idea. It’s been done seven times in the nation’s history, although not since 1869.

In recent polls, a growing majority of Americans support changes to the court, he said.

“Expanding the court is not about Republicans or Democrats,” Jones said. “It’s about protecting our way of life here in America, it’s about protecting freedoms like abortion or the right to vote, as fundamental as that is, and it’s also about keeping New Yorkers safe from being gunned down.”

Any criticisms regarding a revamp of the Supreme Court fails to take into account how the process to appoint new members was manipulated after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, he said. That seat was left vacant for 14 months while denying President Barack Obama an appointment because there was an election later that year. However, some of the same members of Congress broke “a non-existent rule” to rush Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination process through to completion weeks before the 2020 election, Jones argued.

Guttenberg said he believed that Supreme Court justices are being swayed by special interests. For example, the proliferation guns have seen the number of firearms in the United States double from 200 million about 20 years ago to roughly 400 million today is because of lobbyists.

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