Steyer gets top grade from progressive groups on court reform plans

Steyer gets top grade from progressive groups on court reform plans
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A pair of progressive groups gave Tom SteyerTom SteyerOvernight Energy: 'Eye of fire,' Exxon lobbyist's comments fuel renewed attacks on oil industry | Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline | More than 75 companies ask Congress to pass clean electricity standard Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline Six things to watch as California heads for recall election MORE's plan to address the courts the top grade out of the field of Democratic presidential candidates and warned that the party's potential nominees need to make the issue more of a priority.

Take Back the Court and the People's Parity Project released report cards on Friday after evaluating the candidates' proposals to deal with an increasingly conservative judiciary, which many advocates warn will be an impediment to any progressive policy plan.

Steyer led the pack with a "B+" grade, largely due to his support for packing the Supreme Court with extra judges. None of the candidates received an "A," prompting the groups to warn that the field is not taking the issue seriously enough.

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“Having a policy agenda is no longer good enough in this presidential election because candidates need a plan to protect their agendas from the stolen Supreme Court,” Aaron Belkin, director of Take Back the Court, said in a statement. “Without such a plan, the bold changes that they are promising are dead on arrival.”

“This report card makes clear what we’ve long suspected,” added Molly Coleman, the national organizing director for People's Parity Project. “Leading Democratic candidates for president have failed to grapple with the reality that the Republican Party and the Federalist Society have conspired for decades to build a federal bench packed with far-right judges committed to standing [in] the way of any and all progress. If the candidates are serious about their plans for change, they must have a plan for the courts.” 

The current front-runners for the Democratic nomination, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump hails Arizona Senate for audit at Phoenix rally, slams governor Republicans focus tax hike opposition on capital gains change Biden on hecklers: 'This is not a Trump rally. Let 'em holler' MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Overnight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia US launches second Somalia strike in week MORE (I-Vt.), received an F and a D respectively. The groups faulted the candidates for not supporting proposals to expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court, an effort known as "court packing."

Sanders has said that he supports rotating justices between the Supreme Court and other federal courts every few years, while Biden opposes any structural court reform.

This week, Steyer became the first candidate to embrace court-packing as a way to counter the conservative takeover of the federal judiciary that's accelerated during the Trump administration.

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"There’s nothing in the constitution that says there’s nine Supreme Court justices," Steyer said at a campaign stop in Iowa. "I believe to allow a minority party to put in a group of radical, young right-wing ideologues to control the country for the next generation is dramatically unfair."

In the report card, Andrew YangAndrew YangPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Kings launch voting rights effort honoring John Lewis Eric Adams to meet with Biden on curbing gun violence MORE received a B, Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegJD Vance takes aim at culture wars, childless politicians Poll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary The Hill's Morning Report - High-profile COVID-19 infections spark new worries MORE a B-minus, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenKavanaugh conspiracy? Demands to reopen investigation ignore both facts and the law Biden signals tough stance on tech with antitrust picks Poll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary MORE (D-Mass.) a B-minus, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharBiden signals tough stance on tech with antitrust picks Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks Competition laws could be a death knell for startup mergers and acquisitions MORE (D-Minn.) a C-minus and former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergWhy Democrats' .5 trillion reconciliation bill is a losing game Democrats must win big on health care to have a shot in the midterms Stacey Abrams PAC tops 0 million raised MORE an F. 

Despite the push from some activists to make court reform a bigger issue in the race, it has come up only sparingly on the campaign trail and has been asked about only twice during the nationally televised debate.