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What should Democrats do about the Supreme Court?

What should Democrats do about the Supreme Court?

Update: 2020-10-1910


If Democrats win back power this November, they will be faced with a choice: Leave the existing Supreme Court intact, and watch their legislative agenda — and perhaps democracy itself — be gradually gutted by 5-4 and 6-3 judicial rulings; or use their power to reform the nation’s highest court over fierce opposition by the Republican party.

Ganesh Sitaraman is a former senior advisor to Elizabeth Warren and a law professor at Vanderbilt. He’s also the author of one of the most hotly debated proposals for Supreme Court reform, as well as the fairest and clearest analyst I’ve read regarding the benefits and drawbacks of every other plausible proposal for Supreme Court reform. So in this conversation, we discuss the range of options, from well-known ideas like court packing and term limits to more obscure proposals like the 5-5-5 balanced bench and a judicial lottery system.

But there’s another reason I wanted Sitaraman on the show right now. Supreme Court reform matters — for good or for ill — because democracy matters. In his recent book, The Great Democracy, Sitaraman makes an argument that's come to sit at the core of my thinking, too: The fundamental fight in American politics right now is about whether we will become a true democracy. And not just a democracy in the thin, political definition we normally use — holding elections, and ensuring access to the franchise. The fight is for a thicker form of a democracy, one that takes economic power seriously, that makes the construction of a certain kind of civic and political culture central to its aims. 

So this is a conversation about what that kind of democracy would look like, and what it would take to get there – up to and including Supreme Court reform.


Jump-Starting America by Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson 

"How to save the Supreme Court" by Daniel Epps and Ganesh Sitaraman

Sitaraman's tweet threads about expanding the court , term limits , the 5-5-5 Balanced bench, lottery approach, supermajority voting requirements, jurisdiction stripping, legislative overrides, and what the best approach is.

Book recommendations:

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

The Public and Its Problems by John Dewey

The Anarchy by William Dalrymple 


Producer/Audio wizard - Jeff Geld

Researcher - Roge Karma

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Comments (1)


these are predominantly wish lists and fun mental exercises, but have zero chance of being implemented in a polarized political climate. The only real workable solution is to limit terms of Justices to 10 years, and, legislate mandatory retirement age of all Federal Employees, including Judges, Senators and Congresspeople at 75. Courts would have more turnover but for both parties, and would produce more people into the system, who bring more current experiences. 85 year olds almost all have cognitive declines and should not continue to serve as decision makers in a multigenerational, multi cultural, rapidly changing, society.

Oct 25th








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What should Democrats do about the Supreme Court?

What should Democrats do about the Supreme Court?