Powerful union joins call for Supreme Court extension

Powerful union joins call for Supreme Court extension

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) — one of North America’s largest unions — expressed support for the court’s expansion in comments to the Presidential Committee of the United States Supreme Court and urged that panel to restore the legitimacy of the court. International President Mary Kay Henry, writing for the group, represents the “union of approximately two million working women and men.” That’s two million workers who are “in a unique position to be the target of a long-running, coordinated and well-funded effort to strip them of their organizational and other rights through lawsuits in federal court.” In addition, Henry writes, “many SEIU members, as BIPOC citizens, are also the target of an additional campaign to disenfranchise them. That campaign against the voters, like the efforts against workers, has found success in this Supreme Court.”

“We firmly believe that this democracy rests on the cutting edge and has nearly fallen apart in the past 12 months,” Henry told the committee, largely because the “interests of poor and working people have been largely excluded from the government and the law, fueling the rise of anti-democratic forces that people throughout history have turned to in despair.” Henry pleads with the committee to “remember where we’ve been for the past twelve months” and “not get lost in all the academic talk and mundaneness of Zoom meeting rooms.”

Henry makes a strong case for substantive reform, for the committee to not do what most presidential commissions do: “Please be wary of senseless gestures in reform and resistance to change disguised as seemingly reasonable restraint, and please question what even your own inherent biases against change are.” Such gestures include a reform the committee appears to be considering, setting deadlines, nibbling at the edges of a 6-3 majority looking to roll back decades of progress. Spending precious time and political capital on such a limited effort, which could ultimately be rejected by that extremist majority, puts that idea “in the category of seeming reforms that may yield nothing.”

“We believe it has been a long time since the Court expanded its size,” Henry wrote on behalf of the SEIU. “You have the chance to lend your credibility to serious suggestions that can lead to real change. Please don’t waste it.”

As of now, wasting this opportunity seems to be what the committee is inclined to do, planned to finish his work with a final report on December 15. The commission should recognize in itself what Henry warns it about, that its members are “blessed by power, prestige, and expensive education, […] very good at disguising their arguments in what sound like high principles.”

Meanwhile, the effort to form a coalition in Congress to do the work the committee doesn’t want to take on continues and gets stronger. There are now 40 MPs who are working on the 2021 Judiciary Act to expand the court.

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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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