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Ed Markey

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) speaks while House sponsors of the Judiciary—from L to R, Reps. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.)—look on outside the United States Supreme Court on April 15, 2021. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Markey, Bowman Join Climate Coalition in Urging SCOTUS Expansion

"We cannot sit idly by," said Markey, "as extremists on the Supreme Court eviscerate the authorities that the government has had for decades to combat climate change and reduce pollution."

Brett Wilkins

A coalition of climate campaigners and progressive congressional allies on Thursday responded to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that drastically limited the government's authority to reduce greenhouse emissions by urging Congress to expand the high court from nine to 13 justices.

"Congress must act—not just by passing critical climate justice legislation, but by also addressing the six existential threats in judicial robes who brought us this appalling decision."

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) joined the Green New Deal Network (GNDN)—a coalition of 15 climate, environmental, and social justice advocacy groups—in calling for the addition of four justices "to restore balance to the Court."

Their call came after the Court's right-wing supermajority ruled 6-3 in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency to limit the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) rulemaking powers under the Clean Air Act, a decision cheered by Republicans and the fossil fuel industry.

Liberal Justice Elena Kagan warned in her dissent that "today, the court strips the Environmental Protection Agency of the power Congress gave it to respond to 'the most pressing environmental challenge of our time.'"

Markey lamented that "a stolen, illegitimate, radical right-wing Supreme Court just let polluters turn back the clock on 50 years of reduced pollution and improved air quality all across the country."

"We cannot sit idly by as extremists on the Supreme Court eviscerate the authorities that the government has had for decades to combat climate change and reduce pollution," he added. "Congress must act to protect public health and our planet by passing meaningful climate and clean energy funding to protect our communities and our future. We must also pass my Judiciary Act to expand the Court to restore balance and legitimacy to the bench."

First sponsored in the House by Reps. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), and Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), the Judiciary Act of 2021 would increase the size of the U.S. Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices.

"The Supreme Court's ruling in West Virginia v. EPA is an attack on our health, safety, and future, and a direct assault on our government's ability to restrain corporate interests," said Bowman.

"In the midst of a world-historic climate crisis that requires an unprecedented public response, the Supreme Court of the United States has undermined our government's ability to respond to the needs of our planet and the people," he continued. "Not only does this ruling show that the Supreme Court 'majority' has been captured by corporate interests, it shows its loyalty to fossil fuel CEOs and right-wing billionaires, not our Constitution or the people."

"It is a very dangerous power grab by the Court, and it could have implications for every kind of regulation," Bowman added. "In response to this judicial overreach, Congress and the White House must restrain this runaway Supreme Court."

Meagan Hatcher-Mays, director of democracy policy at Indivisible—a GNDN member—asserted that "today's ruling is yet another attack on popular policies, supported by the majority of Americans, by justices who were installed by Republicans and special interests who don't care about the future of our planet."

"The impacts of this decision will reverberate throughout the federal government and leave us an executive branch with a significantly reduced authority to protect or enforce basic safety regulations," Hatcher-Mays said.

"Congress must act—not just by passing critical climate justice legislation, but by also addressing the six existential threats in judicial robes who brought us this appalling decision," she added. "Congress must pass the Judiciary Act and add four seats to the Court."

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