The American political system, though claiming the mantle of equality and human dignity at its founding, was designed to protect the power and privilege of wealthy, white men. Our slow and incomplete path toward achieving the promise of our democracy has required arduous battles to open up our political system to Black people and other people of color, to women, to young people, to immigrants, to middle- and working-class people—to the full American demos.

Yet today that progress—and our very democracy—are in serious jeopardy. The sources of the threats facing our democracy are many, but one of the most powerful and pressing is the U.S. Supreme Court. Today’s Court is openly hostile to the ongoing project of building a multiracial, inclusive democracy. And it is handing down decision after decision that undermines the centuries-long pursuit of racial justice in the law.

As this brief details, the current U.S. Supreme Court constitutes a grave menace both to our democracy and to the political rights and economic well-being of Black and brown people who have never fully enjoyed it. In case after case, the Court has chipped—or blasted—away the political and human rights generations have fought so hard to secure. And as anti-democratic and racially unjust as the decisions and orders described in this brief have been, they’re likely only the beginning. The current term represents the first in which a radical conservative supermajority is fully entrenched on the bench. And the issues they’ve elected to tackle—from abortion access1 to gun control 2  to the very power of the federal government to protecting the environment, workers’ rights, health care, and more3 —should make everyone working for equity and justice fear the worst.

The American people know something is wrong with our highest Court. The very existence of the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court 4  conveys an understanding by the Biden administration, legal scholars of all stripes, and most importantly the public of the serious problems with the current Court and the dangerous threat it presents to the fundamental values of our nation.

Recently, the Commission released the report President Biden charged it with drafting.5  At 288 pages, the report is certainly a serious and thorough review of the various debates surrounding the Court and several reform options that have been proposed. The Commission took a full 7 months to consider the problems facing the Court and to analyze various solutions, hearing from dozens of expert witnesses and fielding thousands of comments from the public. Yet at the end of the day, all we’re left with is a lengthy academic analysis—one that, notably, makes no conclusions and very few recommendations. After another year of Supreme Court decisions that weaken our democracy and the constitutional protections and rights of Black and brown people, we are no closer to realizing urgently-needed reforms that would address the existential threat the Court poses to our nation.

While the Commission apparently could not get there, the solution is clear: expand the membership of the Supreme Court to inoculate against the extraordinary partisan packing that has already taken place and to defend our democracy and the civil and human rights of all Americans, especially Black and brown Americans.

Whether you are an advocate for reproductive choice, racial justice, the right to housing, the environment, or the very existence of our democracy, the urgent need to reform the structure of the Supreme Court should be clear. The consequences for our democracy, and by extension to all facets of our political and economic lives, of not instituting immediate reforms to the Court that meet the nature, scale, and urgency of this threat will be severe. And as with all deficiencies in our systems, they will fall most heavily on Black and brown communities. In fact, they already are.

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