Court Battles

Democrats to call for ‘structural court reforms’ in platform draft

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The Democratic Party will be calling for structural court reforms as a part of its official platform to be voted on next month, according to activists who had been pushing for the position.

The progressive group Demand Justice announced Friday that the committee drafting the platform approved language this week calling for nonspecific court reforms in response to the GOP’s success in stacking the judiciary with conservative judges in recent years.

“The Republican Party has packed our federal courts with unqualified, partisan judges who consistently rule for corporations, the wealthy, and Republican interests,” the new plank reads.

“They have undermined the legitimacy of our courts through an anti-democratic, win-at-all costs campaign that includes blocking a Democratic president from appointing a justice to the Supreme Court and obstructing dozens of diverse lower-court nominees,” it continues. “The Democratic Party recognizes the need for structural court reforms to increase transparency and accountability.”

“The Radical Right has been working for decades to stack our courts with extremist judges,” said Ilyse Hogue, who introduced the platform amendment and serves as president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, a reproductive rights lobbying and advocacy organization. “Even if voters deliver the change our country needs in November, we will still be facing a fundamentally altered judiciary, badly in need of intervention and reform.

“It’s time for a bold conversation about what that reform looks like; we can’t simply sit back and accept that the courts have been taken over by ideologues with lifetime appointments hell-bent on rolling back our rights,” she added.

The platform will be subject to the approval of party delegates at the convention that begins Aug. 17.

While the new plank does not call for any specific reforms, its adoption is a win for a growing number of liberal activists pushing the party to focus more on the courts, including some arguing in favor of court-packing, which involves adding more seats to the Supreme Court in order to flip its ideological balance.

“This is a historic win for the grassroots movement to reclaim our courts. It represents a real escalation in how Democrats are approaching our judiciary after years of surrendering the issue to Republicans,” Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice, said in a statement.

“It is now officially the position of the Democratic party that the status quo of our politicized courts system is unacceptable and the judiciary must be reformed.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the party’s presumptive nominee, however, is opposed to packing the courts and has not campaigned prominently on the Supreme Court.

Earlier this month, a coalition of 22 progressive organizations called on the platform committee to include a court reform plank, arguing that steps like court-packing are necessary in order to prevent Republican-appointed judges from hindering popular progressive policies.

“We cannot accept a future in which progressives fight tooth and nail to enact bold reforms only to see those victories overturned by a Supreme Court that has shown repeatedly that it is hostile to the democratic process,” the groups wrote in a letter.

Updated: 10:04 p.m.

Tags Court-packing Demand Justice Joe Biden Judicial nominations Supreme Court

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