Monday, July 10, 2023
Majority Leader Schumer, Minority Leader McConnell, Speaker McCarthy, Minority Leader Jeffries, Chairman Durbin, Ranking Member Graham, Chairman Whitehouse, Ranking Member Kennedy,
We write today on behalf of the tens of millions of Americans we represent to urge Congress to finally address a broken and captured Supreme Court that is overturning precedents, shattering judicial norms, and consistently siding with billionaires, massive corporations, and their extreme right-wing allies over workers, families, communities, and our democracy.
In recent years the Supreme Court has taken away reproductive choice and freedoms from millions of Americans, made it harder to vote and easier for big money to dominate our elections, made our air and water dirtier, eroded workers’ freedom to form unions and fight for higher wages, blocked student loan debt relief, eroded the separation of state and church, made it easier for businesses to discriminate against the LGBTQ community, and prevented colleges and universities from considering race as one of many factors in the admissions process.
Every time this Supreme Court issues another extremist decision, the Court loses legitimacy, judicial norms wither, our freedoms shrink, corporate power grows, our democracy fades – and the American people pay the price.
In the wake of recent revelations of egregious impropriety by justices and this latest disastrous Supreme Court term, Congress must step up to conduct robust investigations and coordinated formal hearings into corruption, dark money, and interest-driven judicial activism at the Supreme Court in order to inform legislative action to bring true transparency and accountability to this broken Court.
The Court’s refusal to cooperate with legitimate congressional investigations has shined a spotlight on a Court majority that believes it can make its own rules and has exempted itself from the most basic oversight, scrutiny, and accountability. And Supreme Court rulings in recent years have undermined fundamental rights and freedoms that Americans have depended on, and highlighted for people across the country that this Supreme Court has been fully captured by extreme right-wing interests and the billionaire donors and benefactors who fund them.
The revelations about ethics and corruption at the Court have undermined public trust and made a mockery of the idea that every American should be treated equally under the law. As a co-equal branch of government with constitutional responsibility to structure the federal Courts and create law, Congress should conduct a thorough investigation and take action to restore a fair and independent judiciary.
We are pleased that some members of Congress understand the gravity of the situation and have taken initial steps to demand accountability, but these members have only been able to go so far in the absence of a sustained and coordinated series of formal hearings and a clear path toward legislative action.
We are also encouraged that some members of Congress have stepped up to demand accountability and call on Chief Justice Roberts to conduct an investigation into the Supreme Court’s ethics and corruption issues. This would be a step in the right direction, but it is far from enough. The Supreme Court should be subject to the same scrutiny and accountability as other branches of government, and its justices should be held to at least the same ethics standards as members of Congress or the executive branch.
Formal Congressional hearings and oversight would be a strong step toward Congress advancing a legislative agenda that would rein in judicial corruption, protect our checks and balances, restore the rule of law, hold justices accountable, and preserve our freedoms and democracy. Most importantly, it would help restore the American public’s confidence in the Court as an institution. We therefore urge Congress to proceed along two parallel and mutually reinforcing tracks.
First, Congress should invest resources into strategically coordinated oversight hearings and investigations into the corruption and resulting judicial extremism that have led Americans to lose faith in the Court. Americans deserve to know how and why their lives are being impacted by this extreme Supreme Court and what’s at stake for their families, communities, and country.
These formal hearings should support a comprehensive and sustained investigation into the coordinated scheme of anti-democratic influences being brought to bear on our judicial system and they should build on and expand the existing oversight work being done by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and its Subcommittee on Federal Courts, Oversight, Agency Action, and Federal Rights, and the Senate Finance Committee.
A coordinated multi-committee oversight effort would further Congress’s important legislative responsibilities with respect to the federal courts. It would also enable accountability for any specific instances of lawbreaking and corruption by judges and their financial backers, expose the methods and mechanisms used by elite actors to secure undue influence over the judicial process, and educate the American people about the corruption and ethics issues as well as judicial policymaking and its devastating impact on our freedoms and families.
Second, Congress should pass legislation guided by these hearings and investigations and consistent with history and tradition to assert its Article I authority to prevent corruption of the Supreme Court and protect the Court’s independence from those seeking to exert undue influence.
This Supreme Court majority has gone too far on behalf of their donors and benefactors. Enough is enough. People across the country, including the tens of millions we represent, are increasingly disillusioned with today’s biased and unfair Supreme Court. We want a Supreme Court that protects our freedom to make a good living, to breathe clean air and drink clean water, to walk through our communities without the fear of gun violence, to make our own health care decisions, and to know our kids will learn and grow at school.
Congress not only has the power, but a sworn constitutional duty, to bring transparency and accountability to a Supreme Court that has been captured by wealthy and well-connected special interests and to ensure equal justice under the law.
Thank you for your consideration.
United for Democracy
Action Together NEPA
Albert Shanker Institute
Alliance for Justice
American Federation of Teachers
American Humanist Association
American Muslim Civil Rights Center
Arizona Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Advocates
Asian American Women's Political Initiative (AAWPI)
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action
Black Women for Wellness Action Project
Catholics for Choice
Center for Common Ground
Center for Popular Democracy
Climate Hawks Vote
Coalition of Labor Union Women, AFL-CIO
Colorado Black Women for Political Action
Empowering Arizona, Inc
End Citizens United // Let America Vote
Equal Ground Action Fund
Equal Justice Society
Face the Music Collective
Financial Services Innovation Coalition
Free Speech For People
Freedom From Religion Foundation
Friends of the Earth
Fuerte Arts Movement
Get Money Out - Maryland
Guns Down America
Indivisible Chicago Alliance
Indivisible Santa Fe
Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action
Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression
League of Conservation Voters
Long Live GoGo
March On / Future Coalition
Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action
Missouri Voter Protection Coalition
MPower Change Action Fund
NARAL Pro-Choice America
National Association of Social Workers
National Education Association
National Employment Law Project
National Organization for Women
National Partnership for Women & Families
New Disabled South
New Disabled South Rising
Newtown Action Alliance
Ohio Women's Alliance Action Fund
People Power United
People's Parity Project
Reproductive Rights Coalition
Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union
Secure Elections Network
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Stand Up America
Take Back the Court Action Fund
The Media And Democracy Project
The Truth and Conciliation Commission
The Workers Circle
True North Research
Unitarian Universalist Association
Voters of Tomorrow
Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice