A warning to our Supreme Court

Look at how Poland reacted to their Supreme Court imposing more restrictions on abortion.

We have a few dozen major social concerns warranting mass protests and marches in the streets. Adding one more would be no problem at all. They’d all just merge into one gigantic rebellion sweeping across the country.


  1. bcwebb says

    Off topic, but Minnesota just passed NY in the fraction of its population ever infected with COVID19. The US response has been so bad that NY is now 28th in cases/population.

  2. Akira MacKenzie says

    And you want to know what the right-wing majority on the SCOTUS will say in response:

    “So what? We aren’t elected, so we’re not beholden to you and it’s impossible to remove us. Go ahead and protest! Our cops will tear gas, beat, and maybe just shoot you (and we’ll let them) until you give up. You ultimately will give up, because our side has the money and the resources.”

  3. raven says

    The US Supreme court has been captured by the fascist GOP. This means that it is increasingly opposed to what most of the US population wants and expects.

    Are we going to let 5 GOP judges wreck a nation of 328 million people? Do the math.
    We outnumber them by 66 million to one.

    There are a lot of ways for the US people to oppose what the US Supreme court rules on.
    1. The simplest is to expand the court by a Democratic party majority to reflect the majority of the population.
    2. The option also exists to just ignore Supreme court rulings that we disagree with. The Supreme court has no enforcement mechanisms.
    This is de facto what has happened with marijuana. It’s technically illegal at the federal level, and I can’t drive 20 miles without passing a few cannabis stores.

    When the Supreme court opposes the majority and starts taking our voting rights away, and our freedoms away, they also throw away their legitimacy to be a part of our government. Which is unfortunate, in times past, they were a key part of our democracy.

  4. voidhawk says

    @Raven, There has to be a more sustainable way of rebalancing the court, otherwise Dems will pack it when they’re in, the GOP will stuff it when they’re in and soon you’ll end up in a situation like the UK House of Lords with almost 800 members, more than the Commons and not one of them elected.

  5. raven says

    I’m almost certain Roe versus Wade will be overturned.
    The christofascists have been working for that since it was decided in 1973. There is now blood in the water and the sharks are circling. They are counting on it.

    So what happens after that? Well, who knows but we can guess.
    One thing for sure is that it will be a disaster. The so called pro-lifers are really forced birthers and female slavers.

    .1. The Democrats might be able to expand the court and prevent it in the first place.
    .2. A lot of states will choose to ignore it.
    Other states may well start executing or putting women in prison for life who get abortions. By their reasoning, if a zygote is a person, abortion is first degree murder. There have already been bills introduced in red state legislatures to do exactly that.
    Nothing says jesus loves you like executing a few thousand people.
    .3. The court could always reinstate Roe versus Wade down the line. If it is unpopular enough, a few decades of Democratic presidents could change the court again.

  6. fossboxer says

    @3 – Same with the government as a whole. Ignore April 15. I doubt Leavenworth can house a couple hundred million people.

  7. raven says

    … otherwise Dems will pack it when they’re in, the GOP will stuff it when they’re in…

    Sure, that is exactly what they will do.
    I would expect in a few decades, that expanding (or packing) will result in a US Supreme court with 100 judges. Or maybe even a thousand judges.

    At that point, the Court has become nothing but a political football and has lost its legitimacy as an independent branch of government. It’s been captured by the other two branches of government.

    It’s unfortunate, but if it is something that has to be done, might as well just do it.
    Don’t forget, the US Supreme court is the one that has started the War Against Americans, It’s going to be their fault and their problem.

  8. asclepias says

    A friend who is also a pastor has put out a general call to all LGBTQ+ couples that she will be happy to perform marriahe ceremonies for them. I’m not sure if she’ll do this after SCOTUS makes it illegal again (she has 4 youngchildren), but I hope she does!

  9. asclepias says

    Dammit. marriage Who thought putting the ‘H’ key right next to the ‘G’ key was a good idea?

  10. PaulBC says

    Google image search identifies this as a “pride parade.” Sounds like their algorithm could use some tweaks.

    I expect to see this showing up in a Trump ad as “Antifa violence in Portland” any day now. Is there an authoritative source that identifies this as Poland? I can’t find the picture on the link provided.

  11. PaulBC says

    asclepias@9 Christopher Latham Sholes. https://www.cnet.com/news/a-brief-history-of-the-qwerty-keyboard/

    the original key layout, with the second half of the alphabet in order on the top row and the first half in order on the bottom row, led to some problems. The keys were mounted on metal arms, which would jam if the keys were pressed in too rapid succession.

    Sholes’ solution was separating commonly used letter pairings, such as “ST,” to avoid these jams, effectively allowing the typist to type faster, rather than slower.

    Old stuff, and maybe you knew it already.

  12. lb says

    I marched in Washington for pro-choice in the ’80’s and was a clinic escort in the 90’s during Buffalo’s “Spring of Life”. Ill be 61 next year but I’ll be out there again if necessary. I’m sick of basic human reproductive rights being whittled away by bunch of old white men!

  13. khms says

    #4 @voidhawk

    There has to be a more sustainable way of rebalancing the court

    There is, and it doesn’t need anything the US isn’t familiar with.

    Term limits.

    Who had the idea that for-life appointments for anything are a good idea?

  14. jenorafeuer says

    Somebody at one of the other blogs I follow suggested that the Supreme Court be expanded to 13; the number 13 was chosen because that’s the number of Circuit Courts below it. He admitted that fixing it there would be trickier (I assume requiring a constitutional amendment, but what do I know, I’m Canadian), but that legislation fixing the size of the Supreme Court to the number of Circuit Courts would be an easier political sell than ‘we’re expanding the court to pack it, and then blocking you from doing the same’. (Never mind that any Democratic packing is only responding to the rather blatant Republican packing recently masterminded by Mitch McConnell.) It also wouldn’t actually make it impossible to expand the Supreme Court in the future, just a lot more complicated as all the other Circuit Courts would have to get re-shuffled to do it.

  15. brucegee1962 says

    Packing the court isn’t a solution. The only real solution would be replacing the current system with a system where the court’s makeup does not depend upon the vagueries of octogenarians’ lifespans. I like Buttigieg’s plan (https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/inside-pete-buttigieg-s-plan-overhaul-supreme-court-n1012491), though I’m pretty sure it would be struck down as unconstitutional and would require a constitutional amendment.

    The chances of that happening at present are slim. But really, it’s remarkable that no ideologue of either party has decided to assassinate a justice to adjust the status of the court to a more favorable makeup. That might be the jolt the country would need to finally fix the system.

    Or maybe not. Americans seem to resist change even when presented with incredibly obvious need for it.

  16. anat says

    The thing is, we don’t have a majority for a constitutional amendment so right-sizing the court or ignoring it are our options.

  17. wzrd1 says

    @Brucegee1962, the threat of court packing was what it took to salvage the New Deal. Zero support for it, but the threat worked well enough.

    Closer to topic, law enforcement is on alert and time off canceled, apparently all of the wingnuts rattling around rightfully has them and international observers nervous over actual shooting kind of violence. Massive, as in national in scope.

  18. raven says

    The thing is, we don’t have a majority for a constitutional amendment so right-sizing the court or ignoring it are our options.

    It takes 3/4 of the states to amend the US constitution. We couldn’t even pass the ERA. It takes 2/3’s of the US Senate to remove a judge.
    The country is too fractured right now to pass anything requiring more than a slight majority.

    Once again, our choices in the real world are:
    .1. Expand the court as needed.
    .2. Ignore whatever decisions we think we have to ignore.
    This isn’t as bad as it sounds. We already ignore a lot of court decisions and laws we disagree with. That is what happened during the US era of the Prohibition of Alcohol and now with marijuana.
    This is what the US South has been doing with civil rights since 1865 until this morning, when they lost the Civil War.
    .3. Suffer while 5 GOP judges wreck the USA.
    This isn’t impossible either, but don’t overestimate the US population’s ability to suffer the loss of their voting and reproductive freedoms.

  19. PaulBC says

    NYT had an article on suggestions on what to do about SCOTUS. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/10/27/opinion/supreme-court-reform.html

    I completely agree with term limits, but it might be hard to change the constitution. One interesting suggestion was a separate court for constitutional questions that would have revolving membership. I also doubt that will happen, but I like the idea.

    Expanding federal courts other than SCOTUS is another idea. It seems less likely to be controversial, since the population is increasing. I don’t see how you argue against that unless you benefit from having it packed right now.

  20. says

    Fuck it, play powerball.

    Congress can control the appellate jurisdiction of the court, effectively closing it. Wait for everyone on it to die. That’s one option. BTW the French revolution was preceded by a revolt of the judiciary in which they refused to sit. Boom. Checkmate.

    Option 2: congress can REDUCE the size of the court. Suppose they reduce it to one and block appeals? OK now the supreme court is John Roberts, the rest of you lot can fuck off to retirement. 2 weeks later: enlarge the court to 13 and enact term limits and one term of service.

  21. brucegee1962 says

    Term limits don’t really solve the problem. Even if you set up the whole thing so that every president got two appointments per term, if somebody dies the whole thing gets messed up again. You could just do a temporary appointment to fill out the dead justice’s term, so I suppose it might help.

    Does the constitution say it’s a life appointment, though? If so, we’re back to the amendment problem.

  22. DrVanNostrand says

    The constitution does say it’s a lifetime appointment. Currently, the only way to reduce the size of the court is to let someone die and not replace them. Court expansion is by far the easiest tool to change the partisan balance.

  23. says

    The term “acts of civil war” keeps running through my head. I may not be happy about my choices but trying to prevent someone from voting or having their vote counted seems to fit.
    Forcing someone to do something or not do something that does not affect you (having an abortion, being openly different with respect to sex and gender behavior and much more) counts to me too.

    It’s got microaggression characteristics. There will be an act of civil war that breaks the camel’s back.

  24. says

    Is it possible to apply intense social pressure to get supreme court justices to acknowledge the existance of the ninth amendment? I don’t care if they don’t like it, I’m brainstorming ways of dealing with supreme court justices reguardless of outcome. Even if we drown them in liberal justices I want to find ways of putting social pressure on them to deal with these problems in the future.
    The ninth amendment is a potential vehicle for what I’m really interested in, a means putting social pressure on judges with lifetime appointments (I like the idea of making them take the constitution seriously when then don’t like it though). If there is a means for the public to actively challenge the skills and ability of such judges that might help.

  25. says

    article is pretty close to reality but just few extra tidbits of information:
    our trumpkin wannabes started ruining the country in 2015 and damaged polish judiciary system more than GOP in last 20 years.
    You can talk about hipocrisy with merrick garland/amy coney barret, but in Poland Sejm (The House) choses judges for Constitutional Tribunal (court for constitutional cases only) and President just appoints them with no say in that – Duda (president) decided he will not appoint five judges because he doubts they should be chosen by old Sejm.
    Constitutional Tribunal decided, Duda was right about 2 of them but wrong about 3 that should be appointed – prime minister just straight up declared it is not a decision of a tribunal and he will not publish it in official journal of law.
    When it comes to Supreme Court (similar like US supreme court but without constitutional cases) PiS (current ruling party) just added the compulsory retirement age for judges just enough to sent most of the judges that were not favored by PiS to retirement and put new judges in their place.
    Since then PiS sent to the constitutional Tribunal people like Krystyna Pawłowicz (think of female polish Ted Cruz with manners of Trump), Stanisław Piotrowicz (former communist DA, face of destruction of judiciary system in Poland, famous for not prosecuting pedophile priest) or Julia Przyłębska (leader of the Constitutional Tribunal, chosen because she is family friend with ruling party leader).
    Yeah, when I look at US politics I always have hard time to decide which is worse.

    Now about protests – it was 5th attempt in last few years to remove the fetal defects as a cause for an abortion and every time there were big protests – Black Marches as they were called.basically 1/8 is for total ban on abortion, 5/8 on leaving it as it is, 2/8 for legalizing it a bit more so decision is very unpopular and couldn’t happen at worse time.
    Poland’s response to pandemic, while initially pretty decent (even pz praised it on this blog) soon devolved into chaos and incompetence – with “ghost election” – party officials ordered printing ballots for mail-only elections before the proper law was decided – and finally it wasn’t, elections didn’t happened, money was spent. Ministry of Health bought ventillation machines from known arms dealer and machines never arrived, few transports of masks that were not meeting the norms were bought at elevated prices from Health Minister’s ski instructor, the rules for lockdowns are sketchy and unclear, no real help for closed businesses.
    Right after presidential election there was new law introduced banning breeding animals for furs and a lot of new restrictions on animal breeding that made farmers (75% of the voted PiS) really angry and the last straw already during protests was a decicion to close down all cementaries for all saints day that was made on the Friday evening and effective at midnight – this is a huge issue for flower farmers or people trading in firelights traditionally used on graves of family as all saints day mean often over 75% of yearly income for them.
    To top it of, decision to close cementaries was made to blame protests for spread of CoVID (we are hardly hit at the moment) while government currently is adding number of tests, but not positives from private laboratories, while in 2 weeks it will be adding number of positives but not the number of tests made in private laboratories (those inflating the ratio artificially).

    So while the main issue is abortion rights, there is quite a lot of reasons why other groups joined the protests – they are at the same time pro-abortion rights, anti-government and other groups.
    However in Poland only half of the percent of people has a license to own a gun, mostly registered hunters and looting is not a part of polish tradition of protests (rioting – well sometimes). After few incidents in the beginning protesters realized that devastating property or straight up attacking churches is not effective and protests are relatively peaceful, even if numerous.

  26. oddie says

    @wzrd1 I have been reading a lot of that kind of chatter too. I am hoping it is all overblown. But lots of organizations from news papers to other countries are on alert and acting as if the threat of significant social unrest is legitimate.

  27. oddie says

    Limiting how many judges a president can appoint with term limits for all judges so that the openings happen on a regulated schedule. Make it an impeachable offense for who ever controls seamstress too allow a judicial seat to remain open for longer than a specific allotted time or conversely allow the minority leader to appoint after a window is open for too long and give the vote to House in that case. I guess the main problem, that assholes are going to try and cheat, can really only be corrected with a shift in culture to one that cares more for democratic norms and procedures and less about winning no matter what.

  28. DanDare says

    // I guess the main problem, that assholes are going to try and cheat, can really only be corrected with a shift in culture to one that cares more for democratic norms and procedures and less about winning no matter what. //

    Yes. That’s the central issue and why governments need checks and balances.

  29. canadiansteve says

    Interesting that setting a term limit on judges could be declared unconstitutional…. however, that ruling would have to be made by those same judges. Makes me think – pack with sympathetic judges first, then term limits after.

  30. John Morales says

    canadiansteve, see, that’s what I don’t get.

    “sympathetic judges”, “partisan judges”, “activist judges”, “conservative/liberal judges” should all be oxymorons.

  31. DrVanNostrand says


    The problem is that the constitution is extremely clear on the issue of the term. It’s life, and changing that requires an amendment. Even the most liberal judges would be loathe to do something as dishonest as allowing term limits without an amendment. On the other hand, the constitution is completely silent on how large the court is, and it’s size has been set by congress since the founding of the country. Neither issue is even remotely debatable by anyone who’s being intellectually honest. If I have two options, one that requires massive dishonesty and hypocrisy, and one that doesn’t, I’ll choose the latter.

  32. John Morales says

    DrVanNostrand, hm. Each additional judge requires resources, no? Not insignificant.
    For life. From the public purse.

  33. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    My favorite court fixing plans are of my own creation. 3 part plan.

    1- Federal judges, including SCOTUS judges, require 4/5 senate approval.

    2- Every 2 years, the current president gets to appoint one SCOTUS judge, regardless of the current size of SCOTUS.

    3- If a new SCOTUS judge is not approved by the senate within 6 months, then a serving federal judge will be selected at random to SCOTUS, bypassing the senate approval requirement.

    We should require a supermajority for confirmation to change this from a political to an apolitical process, aka the exact opposite of Buttigieg’s horrid plan.

    Instead of choosing a new SCOTUS judge when one dies, a new one should be chosen at fixed intervals. (This does mean that the size of SCOTUS will vary over time.) This will greatly reduce the element of chance and luck in the makeup of the court.

    If a group in the senate wants to play hardball in the short term and deny all SCOTUS appointments, then we get a random judge from the federal bench. If a group in the senate wants to play hardball for an extended period of time and refuse to even approve non-SCOTUS federal judges, then that’s akin to a group holding the government hostage, aka a government shutdown. IMO, a group in the senate might rarely exercise the nuclear option of a government shutdown, but norms plus public demand for a working judiciary should be enough IMO to avert that most of the time.

    I don’t see the need for fixed terms and term limits, but you could add those to my plan if you really want.

  34. GerrardOfTitanServer says


    Sorry, forgot that fixed term lengths and term limits in my plan would reduce the element of chance in the makeup of the court, and so I would support it.

    Also, I forgot to explicitly mention it, but that 4/5 senate approval requirement needs to be more than a norm or congressional law. It, and the rest of my plan, needs to be a constitutional amendment.

  35. PaulBC says

    Sorry, forgot that fixed term lengths and term limits in my plan would reduce the element of chance in the makeup of the court, and so I would support it.

    I don’t think it is important to reduce the element of chance as it is to reduce political bias. Though I doubt we’d ever pass an amendment to choose the high court but lottery, it doesn’t sound crazy to me at all, provided you started with a qualified pool of candidates (though again, that could be rigged to favor a partisan outcome).

    If you were rotating justices out of the positions frequently and swapping in random picks, you might lose some “superstars”, but is that important? (Particularly considering the subjective nature of such a view.) By reducing the prestige of the position but emphasizing the gravity, you might actually get much better outcomes.

  36. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    To PaulBC

    lottery, it doesn’t sound crazy to me at all, provided you started with a qualified pool of candidates

    Hence why I think it’s important for the 4/5 supermajority senate approval for all federal judges.

    For any real amendment, I would probably include a bullet point saying that all current federal judges are there for a temporary period until they get 4/5 approval, or until 2 years pass at which point they are removed.

  37. birgerjohansson says

    Re. The situation in Vienna. Four dead civilians, one dead attacker, seven injured in serious condition.