Every VT elected official who signed it should be removed from office and prosecuted (just to be fair).
by Rob Roper
As we approach Constitution Day on September 17, eighteen Vermont elected officials, including our Lieutenant Governor, signed a shocking letter calling for the expansion of the U.S. Supreme Court by four members. Signing this letter should disqualify them all from holding any public office, not for the idea of expanding the Court – there’s nothing in the Constitution stipulating the number of members the Court has to have – but for the reasons they put forward for the change.
Let’s go through their letter and shed a little light on what is basically an insurrectionist call to delegitimize and overthrow a co-equal branch of our government, undermining Constitution and our small “r” republican system. The letter goes…
Today, the Republican-appointed supermajority that controls the Supreme Court is an existential threat to our rights and our democracy. To secure the future of our rights, our democracy, and our ability to govern as state and local elected officials, we need to expand the Court and restore balance.
This is blatant attempt to politicize the Supreme Court, which was and is supposed to be separated from and be a check and balance on the partisan passions that drive the elected branches of government. The Court’s loyalty is to the Constitution, not to the voters or the other branches of government. That’s by design. Yet the stated purpose here is to alter the makeup of the Court along political lines to bring it into sync with the partisan political agenda of the Democrat party. As such, the letter signers are essentially attempting to overthrow a legitimately appointed, co-equal branch of government, undermining the Constitution they all swore an oath to uphold.
The Supreme Court is controlled by an extremist supermajority that is enacting a partisan Republican agenda instead of following the Constitution and the rule of law. As we saw in the decision overturning Roe v. Wade…
No, what the signers of the letter don’t like is that this Court is actually upholding the Constitution by striking down laws that violate the Constitutional rights of U.S. citizens and/or overstep the bounds of the authority granted to lawmakers by the Constitution.
Our Constitution is designed to limit the powers of government, especially the federal government. The signers of this letter do not want the powers of government subjected to Constitutional limitations, as what they ultimately seek is a Left-wing dictatorship in the guise of a democracy with themselves in charge. No thanks!
It’s interesting that they use the overturning of Roe v. Wade as their example of overstepping bounds. They couldn’t have picked a worse one. Where in the Constitution does it discuss abortion? It doesn’t. The 10th Amendment reserves those issues not specifically delegated to federal government to the States, or the people, which is exactly what the Court ruled – it returned the issue to the states to decide per the Constitution and via the democratically elected officials in those states, who are responsible to their voters. In other words, this Court restored the democratic process – you know, democracy! — by following rather than ignoring the Constitution.
This is what the letter signers don’t like.
…no right is safe from the radical, far-right justices who control this Court.
Although this court has made some rulings that leave me scratching my head, I’m pretty sure the rights to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press (which is not exclusively the media, but every citizen’s individual right to publish their opinions with the same freedom that we have to speak them), freedom of association, the right to bear arms, and to a generally the the preservation of decision making by states and, more importantly, the people are in much better hands with this Court than any recent configuration.
It is precisely these rights that the signers of this letter want to take away (just look at their voting records and the legislation that they sponsor), which is why they see the need to overthrow the third branch of Government.
We are especially concerned about voting rights and democracy, as the Court routinely steps in to make it easier for Republicans to suppress the vote, gerrymander districts,…
What the radical Leftist signers of this letter don’t like is the fact that the Courts are stepping in to make it harder Leftist legislatures to pass laws making it easier to cheat in elections. They worry about democracy? Do they forget that we established the most dynamic, successful democratic nation in history for over two and a quarter centuries without the “benefit” of mail in ballots, ballot harvesting, drop boxes, or early voting a month and a half in advance? What creates confidence in electoral results is a clear chain of custody for each ballot from voter to vote counter, and this is precisely what they are trying to do away with.
As for gerrymandering, it is supremely ironic that many of the signers of this letter wouldn’t be in elected office today were it not for the gerrymandering done by the Democratic Supermajority in Montpelier during redistricting following the 2020 census. Full disclosure, I served on the Reapportionment Board, and the partisan Democrats totally rejected the tri-partisan map put forward by the Board calling for all single member legislative districts – a concept that had overwhelming public support. So much for their love of democracy and distain for rigging the map!
As elected officials, we are especially concerned that the Court is making it harder for the elected branches at all levels to actually solve problems. The Court repeatedly steps in to overturn or restrict democratically enacted policies that do not align with the Republican Party’s agenda. We must be able to solve the urgent issues facing this country without being stymied by partisan judges who routinely overstep their authority.
The arrogance here is breathtaking! This being a free country founded upon the principles of individual rights and limited government – you know, those rights codified in the Constitution you say you’re so concerned about — it is not your job to solve most of the problems you think it is your business to solve. In fact, most of the problems that exist today are the result of you overstepping your authority and sticking your incompetent fingers where they do not belong in the private affairs of citizens.
The Constitution states that you “shall pass no laws” abridging citizens’ freedom of speech and press, the right to keep and bear arms, allowing unreasonable searches and seizures — or do anything not specifically spelled out in the Constitution. When you try to do these things, it is the Courts job to “stymie” you. That is the whole point of the Court. You don’t like it, so you’re trying to overthrow the branch of government that serves as a check and balance on your greed for power.
The Court’s overreach is all the more concerning because the Republican supermajority is illegitimate. Republicans blocked Merrick Garland’s nomination, rammed through Brett Kavanaugh despite credible charges of perjury and sexual assault, and confirmed Amy Coney Barrett after 60 million Americans had already voted in the presidential election.
Interesting…. When elected officials say the 2020 presidential election was illegitimate and call for it to be overturned (not a position I am endorsing, but just pointing out the hypocrisy here) they are accused of insurrection and subjected to criminal indictment and be banned from future ballots. But when you say that the makeup of the Court – an co-equal branch of government to the executive (and legislative) — is illegitimate and should be overturned, that’s totally cool I guess? Nope. Same thing. You all need to be thrown into the same cell with Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani.
As for your reasoning about Merrick Garland, etc., could you please point out where any those moves, albeit political hardball, was outside the Constitutional authority of the Senate? Remember that the Constitution you are ostensibly worried about requires the “advice and consent” of the Senate in appointing Supreme Court justices. In each of the cases you cite, the Senators either consented or did not consent to the President’s nominee per the rules of the Senate and the U.S. Constitution.
This Court has been hijacked by far-right special interests, and Americans will not be able to trust it until it has been reformed.
Nope. Elections in a democratic republic have consequences – those for senators as well as presidents – and the Court members were all duly nominated by the duly elected president and confirmed by the duly elected Senate per the rules set forth in the Constitution. No hijacking here. This is what de-mo-cra-cy looks like!
Expanding the Court by adding four seats is the clearly constitutional way to restore balance. It is in line with American history, and it will restore balance without delay. We join the growing movement of Americans demanding expansion to protect our rights and our democracy.
Yeah, right. I look forward to 2025, after Republicans retake the Senate and the White House, for your support in expanding the Court by four more seats. What the heck, let’s make it six. Because if what you’re advocating for is really a good idea for the Constitution and Democracy today, it’s should be timeless and therefore just as good two years from now. If not, you’re all just a bunch of partisan hacks trying to undermine and overthrow a legitimately established co-equal branch of our government.
Here are the insurrectionists who signed the letter:
Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman (D/P-VT)
State Sen. Martine Gulick (D-Chittenden Central)
State Sen. Nader Hashim (D-Windham)
State Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale (D-Chittenden Southeast)
State Sen. Tanya Vyhovsky (D-Chittenden Central)
State Sen. Anne Watson (D-Washington)
State Sen. Becca White (D-Windsor)
State Rep. Daisy Berbeco (Chittenden 21)
State Rep. Mari Cordes (D-Addison 4)
State Rep. Bobby Farlice-Rubio (Caledonia 1)
State Rep. Troy Headrick (P-Chittenden 15)
State Rep. Emilie Kornheiser (D-Windham 7)
State Rep. Emilie Krasnow (D-Chittenden 9)
State Rep. Kate Logan (P-Chittenden 16)
State Rep. Emma Mulvaney-Stanak (P-Chittenden 17)
State Rep. Monique Priestley (D-Orange 2)
State Rep. Taylor Small (P-Chittenden 21)
State Rep. Joseph “Chip” Troiano (D-Caledonia 2)
Rob Roper is a freelance writer who has been involved with Vermont politics and policy for over 20 years. This article reprinted with permission from Behind the Lines: Rob Roper on Vermont Politics, robertroper.substack.com