Activists For Expanding The Supreme Court Rally Outside the Supreme Court on June 22, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Demand Justice)

This Supreme Court Is a Threat to Asian American Communities

The Court continues to turn a blind eye to racism and discrimination.

As we reflect on the disastrous Supreme Court term of 2022, we must acknowledge that this Supreme Court is a threat to the rights of Asian American communities and must be reformed.

Fortunately, there is a solution--the Judiciary Act of 2021, a bill that would add four seats to the Supreme Court.

The Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade set reproductive freedom back by decades and put many of our most fundamental rights at risk. Asian American communities already face disproportionate barriers when accessing health care--including language, economic and legal obstacles--particularly in regard to contraception and family planning care. This ruling just further endangers the lives of Asian American women and families. Another, Patel v. Garland, flew under the radar, but should also spark concern--five Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices ruled in favor of deporting a man simply because he had checked the wrong box on a form years ago.

These decisions are a reminder that Asian American communities are poised to suffer from the right-wing hijacking of the Supreme Court by Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump. Fortunately, there is a solution--the Judiciary Act of 2021, a bill that would add four seats to the Supreme Court. It is something that has been done on seven different occasions to ensure that the number of judges reflects the number of federal circuit courts across the country. As Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I am proud to support this bill, as recent polling shows Asian American voters also support Court expansion proposals by a wide margin. The Constitution never set a specific number of judges because it was designed to grow with the country.

Supreme Court opinions harming Asian American communities are nothing new. Asian Americans have first-hand experience with its long history of embracing white supremacy. In 1889, the Court upheld the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first time Congress prohibited immigration based on ethnicity or nationality. And during World War II, the Supreme Court enabled the incarceration of thousands of Japanese Americans in Korematsu v. United States. Furthermore, in the 1922 case Ozawa v. United States, the Court approved a law making Asian Americans ineligible for naturalization because they were not "white."

The Court continues to turn a blind eye to racism and discrimination. In 2013, under the Shelby County v. Holder ruling, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act--a critical tool for defending Asian American voters against discrimination.

Frequent and heinous racialized violence against Asian American communities have proven over and over again that our community is at risk from America's gun violence epidemic, and polling shows overwhelming support among Asian American communities for common sense gun safety laws. We recently marked the one-year anniversary of the horrific Atlanta spa shootings, where a gunman killed 8 individuals, including 6 Asian women, at 3 Asian-owned spas, after purchasing a handgun just hours before his rampage. However, the Supreme Court has gone out of its way to roll back anti-gun violence measures--further evidenced by the recent ruling on a New York gun law, striking down concealed carry requirements.

Asian Americans also overwhelmingly support reproductive freedom, with nearly three-quarters expressing support for legal abortion in polling, yet the Court did not hesitate to turn back the clock by overturning Roe v. Wade. And in his dissent, Justice Thomas clearly outlined the other rights that are on the chopping block, such as the right to contraception, and the right to marry the person you love. While I am the lead sponsor of the Women's Health Protection Act, which would create a federal right to abortion care, I know Supreme Court expansion has to be part of a lasting solution.

To achieve justice, we need to ensure Asian Americans are fully represented in the judiciary.

Our rights are on the line and are inextricably linked with workers' rights, environmental protections and consumers rights, all of which are under threat from this far-right Court. Everything we care about is at risk.

To achieve justice, we need to ensure Asian Americans are fully represented in the judiciary. There has never been an Asian American Supreme Court Justice, but President Biden has made a down payment on ensuring more Asian representation on the federal courts by nominating 23 phenomenally qualified AAPI lawyers. They are breaking many barriers; one would be the first Bangladeshi American and first Muslim American woman to ever serve as an Article III federal judge, and three more are the first ever AAPI women with experience as public defenders to serve as lifetime federal judges.

However, representation at the circuit and district court level cannot fix the problem alone--we must first deal with the radical majority on the Supreme Court.

We did not get here by accident. Mitch McConnell stole a Supreme Court seat from President Obama and confirmed another Supreme Court justice in the middle of an election so President Trump, an openly racist man, would have a path wide enough to install a far-right supermajority on the Court.

To address the problem, we need a pro-justice campaign that is just as intentional. We need more Democrats to follow the lead of many of my fellow Asian American leaders in Congress and expand the Court. History explicitly tells us that without action, Asian American communities will pay an enormous price.

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