Coalition of abortion rights groups announces support for court expansion
Today, a coalition of state-based groups working to protect abortion access announced its support for Supreme Court expansion because “the fight to protect abortion rights must include the fight to expand the Supreme Court.”
The groups announcing their support today include:
Pro-Choice North Carolina
Reproductive Equity Now (Massachusetts)
“The critical work of litigating cases to keep clinics open, and securing proactive legislation to expand abortion access, depends on having a judiciary that acts with integrity, in good faith, and in allegiance to the law. But that’s not our reality…” the groups said in a joint statement. “[L]egislation to safeguard abortion access is critical, but not enough. We also need a Court that won’t overturn that legislation. It’s time for every elected official who supports reproductive rights to join us in support of Court expansion.”
“Reproductive rights advocates in states across this country are working tirelessly to protect safe and equitable abortion care for pregnant Americans,” said Senator Ed Markey. “That these advocates would have to prepare for the overturning of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey at a time when dozens of state governments conspire to enforce unjust bans on abortion is a tragedy. We must do our part in Washington by passing the Judiciary Act to expand the Supreme Court and restore the American people’s faith in our nation’s highest court so that our fundamental rights are no longer in the hands of an illegitimate, far-right majority.”
“I’m proud to support reproductive rights advocates in their fight to protect Roe v. Wade by restoring balance to the Supreme Court through expansion,” said Representative Mondaire Jones. “This moment is urgent. We don’t have to let a far-right majority on the Supreme Court end the right to abortion and other fundamental rights—we have more momentum than ever to pass the Judiciary Act in Congress.”
“As the first state to decriminalize abortion in 1967, six years before Roe, Colorado occupies a unique place in our national abortion rights landscape. Because the Court is poised to overturn Roe, we just passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act to put the fundamental right to abortion in state law. But it is clear that without Court expansion, the right to abortion we have here in Colorado will be denied to millions of Americans. That is wrong. And it must be fixed,” said Karen Middleton, president of Cobalt.
“Maryland has taken historic action this year to expand and protect access to abortion. We are the southernmost state with the strongest abortion protection laws. But the truth is that the highest court in the land is completely tainted and overrun by far right fundamentalists with an insidious agenda aimed at criminalizing pregnancy outcomes and rolling back all of the rights we hold so dear. The supremacy clause of the Constitution only allows states to do so much and leaves the devastating potential for even more draconian bans becoming the law of the land and superseding state protections. This is serious. Expanding the Court may seem like a radical move to some but it is a completely proportionate political response to the gutting of decades of civil rights precedent. We are kissing goodbye the livelihoods of the most marginalized in our communities for generations to come if no action is taken to change the Court. Abortion access is highly popular. It’s time for Democrats to claim that and stop hedging. Abortion is freedom and a right there’s no popular appetite to lose. People don’t forget and will never forgive inaction at the ballot box,” said Lily Bolourian, executive director of Pro-Choice Maryland.
“Ohio has a strong pro-choice majority, but because of gerrymandering, the people of Ohio are being ruled by an anti-choice legislative supermajority that is on the verge of outlawing abortion without exception. The courts were designed to be a check on overreaching zealots like these, but the U.S. Supreme Court is now dominated by justices that were nominated by a president that was not elected by a majority of Americans. The recently leaked draft decision in the Dobbs case shows that this Court will no longer stand up to this tyranny. We must expand the Court to protect our basic human rights, our lives, and our democracy,” said Kellie Copeland, executive director of Pro-Choice Ohio.
“The fact that we are on the verge of losing a constitutional right is confirmation that we are witnessing the crumbling of an institution; restoring legitimacy to our courts is paramount,” said Christel Allen, executive director of Pro-Choice Oregon. “We will not stand by and cede our power to a Supreme Court majority that is willfully ignoring our rights, and whose actions will cause unprecedented harm to countless communities: Black and brown families, trans and gender non-binary individuals, Indigenous people, immigrants and refugees, and pregnant people and their families. Expanding the Court is a bold, and necessary change to uphold reproductive rights, gender protections, disability rights, voting and civil rights, LGBTQ2IA+ rights, and the right to privacy—these are essential, human rights.”
“It is clear that the Supreme Court of the United States has been compromised and politicized,” said Tarina Keene, executive director of Pro-Choice Virginia. “The extreme right-wing flank of the Court is using ideology not jurisprudence to undo decades of precedent and hard fought rights. Equity nor equality are their endgame; it is to use sheer force to bend us all to their will and it appears they will stop at nothing to do it. Our fundamental human rights and democracy are at stake and now, we must do all we can to stop this madness before it is too late.”
“We are in an ominous place where the Supreme Court is not representing the American people—the majority of whom believe in the legal right to abortion,” said Kia Guarino, executive director of Pro-Choice Washington. “Being pro-abortion is about much more than the right to abortion: It’s about socioeconomic justice, racial justice, and community. Our elected leaders say they care about these fundamental rights. Well, now is the time to act. The Supreme Court must be expanded to represent all Americans.”
“When the people working on the ground day after day to protect abortion access share their perspective on what it will take to protect abortion rights, everyone should listen,” said Sarah Lipton-Lubet, executive director of Take Back the Court Action Fund. “The stolen right-wing Supreme Court majority has already shown its hand, and the conservative justices’ pure hostility toward the right to abortion is obvious. So the question is, will our elected leaders sit idly by and allow them to impose their cruel agenda? Or will they listen to those on the frontlines of this fight when they say that if we want to protect the right to abortion there is no choice but to restore balance to the Supreme Court?”
In the days since Justice Alito’s frightening draft opinion leaked, momentum behind Court expansion has only grown. A poll from the week of the leak shows that a plurality supports Court expansion while a majority of the public does not want the Court to overturn Roe. This is consistent with April polling that shows a majority (52%) of registered voters believe that increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court would strengthen democracy.
In addition, leaders from former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder to Reps. Adam Schiff, Brendan Boyle, Nanette Barragán, David Cicilline, Jimmy Gomez, and Mark DeSaulnier have come out in support of expanding the Court in recent days.
The groups’ full statement in support of Court expansion follows:
As state advocates, we are on the frontlines defending abortion access in communities across the country — in red states, blue states, and purple states. And we are coming together to say what the moment demands: The fight to protect abortion rights must include the fight to expand the Supreme Court.
The critical work of litigating cases to keep clinics open, and securing proactive legislation to expand abortion access, depends on having a judiciary that acts with integrity, in good faith, and in allegiance to the law. But that’s not our reality: we have a 6-3 Court that was stolen by anti-abortion politicians in a series of unprecedented power grabs with the express goal of overturning our most fundamental rights. Everything we care about is at stake: reproductive freedom, racial justice, LGBTQI equality, immigrants rights, climate justice, and democracy itself. This is not a hypothetical — it is happening right now, and lives are on the line.
That means legislation to safeguard abortion access is critical, but not enough. We also need a Court that won’t overturn that legislation. It’s time for every elected official who supports reproductive rights to join us in support of Court expansion.