Well, lots could be done.
Expand the Court to 13 Justices
First and foremost, the Court could be expanded beyond nine justices to thirteen. There is nothing in the Constitution limiting the Supreme Court to nine people. More justices would spread power and expand the viewpoints and lived experiences of the Court.
Instead of serving for the rest of their lives, Supreme Court justices could also have limited terms. One bill establishes an 18-year term — still quite long, but not the thirty-plus years (!!!) that is common for justices to serve. And remember, these new Supreme Court Justices are quite young, which means they could serve even longer.
Establish a Code of Conduct
The most obvious (and the least that can be done) is the creation of stronger guidelines and safeguards around ethics. Other federal judges are subject to a code of conduct. SCOTUS should also adhere to a clear code of conduct with firm rules around disclosure and when justices should recuse themselves from a case.
So, you see, there are many options here.
Court reform is directly tied to democracy reform. As we dream of and plan for a more equitable and just world, we also can address the problems that lead to the continued oppression of communities marginalized by our political systems grounded in white supremacy.
Politicians often say that if people do not like how their government represents them, they can vote their way out.
But when the Supreme Court weakens the Voting Rights Act, and state legislatures try to suppress voting, you see the system for what it is — an entrenchment of power structures that continue systematic discrimination and harm, especially to BIPOC communities that remain vastly underrepresented in corridors of power.
At PRH, we’re ready to push for these essential reforms because our democracy is not working. It has never worked for many communities. We have held institutions like the Supreme Court in undeserved high esteem for too long.
We need to change and challenge our systems, reimagine, and dream.
Vice President, Public Policy & Strategic Partnerships