Sen. Markey seeks to pack ‘illegitimate’ Supreme Court

US Sen. Ed Markey has emerged as one of the most forceful critics of the US Supreme Court after recent decisions on abortion, gun licensing, and environmental protection. Markey has called for adding four more seats to the court, to minimize its current conservative tilt.

“If a bully steals your lunch money and you don’t do anything, they’re coming back for more the next time,” the Massachusetts Democrat said on the Codcast this week. “So the Republicans stole two seats. Just imagine what they’ll do in the next 10 years if we do nothing to restore the court’s balance.”

Markey has called the current court “illegitimate.” Pressed on why, Markey cited the Republican-controlled Senate’s refusal to hold hearings on Obama nominee Merrick Garland during an election year, then their decision to confirm Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett, despite the upcoming presidential election. Markey called that “absolutely a violation of the so-called McConnell rule that we wouldn’t act on a Supreme Court justice in an election year,” referring to Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“Those justices now are part of a majority which is aiming to systematically undermine the progressive decisions that have been made over two generations in our country,” Markey said.

If the court is not expanded to “reclaim” those seats, Markey said, the recent decisions “are just a preview of coming atrocities that are going to be emanating from the Supreme Court.”

Asked whether Republicans wouldn’t simply retake those added seats when they have the power to do so, Markey said, “the only alternative is to just accept the fact that for the next 15 years, right-wing Republican justices who are relatively young on the Supreme Court will undermine everything.” Markey said that could include the rights to same-sex marriage and contraception, and the authority of the FDA to regulate e-cigarettes.

Markey has also called to abolish the filibuster, the rule that requires 60 votes rather than a majority for legislation to pass the Senate. He called the procedure “arcane” and said it is “preventing the Senate from acting on the will of the American people.” “From my perspective, the filibuster is this Jim Crow relic from an earlier era that now has come to haunt our nation in the 21st century,” Markey said.

Asked why the solution to the filibuster is not bipartisanship, Markey said the problem is a Republican Party that is “within the grip of a right-wing ideology that has them terrified, and that ideology is Donald Trump.” He said there is a need to restore “balance” on the Supreme Court for now, “and maybe, just maybe, we’ll reach a day where the Republican Party returns to its senses.”

With regard to the specific court decisions, Markey said the ruling saying the EPA cannot regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants is in effect the court providing a “leaky bucket” to handle a “five alarm climate fire.”

Markey appeared with President Biden in Somerset last week, where the president announced modest executive actions to address climate change. Many environmental activists urged the president to go further, and Markey said he sees the president’s initial actions as just the beginning.

He made very clear that he’s going to roll out executive action after executive action in the months to come that are going to substitute for, thus far, the failure of Congress to act to deal with the climate crisis,” he said. Markey said the US needs a strong climate policy to send a message to the world about the importance of climate change.We cannot preach temperance from a bar stool,” he said.

As the state Legislature works to update gun laws to adhere to the high court’s ruling on gun licensing, Markey said he encourages the Legislature to fill any gaps left by the court. “Massachusetts has to work to make NRA stand for not relevant anymore in American politics. We should be the leader,” he said.

On abortion, Markey said, the US is in “dark times,” and he is glad Gov. Charlie Baker and the Legislature are taking steps to legally protect abortion providers who serve women who travel from other states. Massachusetts must be a safe harbor for people across the country who are being denied the care they seek in their home states,” Markey said. “It’s a simple fact that we need more pro-choice governors and state legislatures to protect abortion access after this decision. But I think our Legislature is showing the way.”

SHIRA SCHOENBERG

 

FROM COMMONWEALTH

Review warranted: A Boston police captain who had been out on paid leave for 2½ years is cleared of six of the eight counts against him for violating rules of conduct and given an oral reprimand for the remaining two. The hearing officer who ruled in his case says a review of the situation is warranted. Read more.

Tough times for fishermen: Taking advantage of catch limits to preserve fish species, private equity firms have taken control of a large swath of the fishing industry in New Bedford and boosted their profits by shifting more of the costs on to fishermen. Read more

OPINION

Bad idea: Brian Kane, executive director of the MBTA Advisory Board, says merging the T into the Massachusetts Department of Transportation is a bad idea. Read more.

Restore service at the T: James Aloisi, a former secretary of transportation and board member at TransitMatters, says full service levels need to be restored immediately at the MBTA. He says the lack of space in the operations control center cannot be an excuse for the lack of hiring. Read more.

Period poverty: Hannah Wilcove, a summer fellow at Mass NOW, says period poverty is a reproductive justice issue. Read more.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

BEACON HILL

In the final week of the legislative session, lawmakers have lots left to do. (Salem News) But Gov. Charlie Baker, a lame-duck Republican in a sea of blue lawmakers, actually holds lots of the cards. (Boston Globe

Gov. Charlie Baker’s dangerousness bill is sent to study, which Baker calls an insult to survivors of domestic violence. (MassLive)

The Senate tries again to pass legislation that would give legislative staffers health insurance beginning on the first day of their employment. (MassLive)

The Senate approves the repeal of the state’s ban on “happy hour” drink discounts, but the measure’s prospects are uncertain and not even all restaurant owners are enthused by the idea. (Boston Globe

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

Three people were arrested when a white supremacist group marched in Jamaica Plain on Saturday. (WBUR)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Massachusetts nonprofits seek to help Ukrainian refugee families resettle in the US in a variety of ways. (MassLive)

ELECTIONS

Democratic rivals are taking aim at lieutenant governor candidate Kim Driscoll after a super PAC was launched to aid her which is expected to be bankrolled, in part, by a developer who has given to top national Republicans. (Boston Herald

The Essex DA’s race between Paul Tucker and James O’Shea focuses on who has more experience working with law enforcement and the court system. (Salem News)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Responding to a recent investigative report by the New Bedford LIght and ProPublica, the state’s two US senators, Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, along with Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, condemned lax antitrust policies and weak enforcement that have allowed companies linked to private equity and foreign investors to take control of a big chunk of New Bedford’s fishing sector. (New Bedford Light

EDUCATION

Nearly a third of Massachusetts K-12 students were deemed “chronically absent” last year. (Boston Globe

ARTS/CULTURE

The town of Plymouth takes over the historic 1863 Simes House after the nonprofit running it fails to take care of it. (Patriot Ledger)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Massachusetts cities are trying to deal with rising rat complaints using electronic traps, carbon monoxide, and birth control. (WBUR)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The trial is set to begin for Volodymr Zhukovskyy, the West Springfield man accused of negligent homicide for plowing his truck into a group of New Hampshire motorcyclists, killing seven. The incident highlighted problems with the state RMV, since Zhukovskyy’s license should have been suspended. (Associated Press)

Suffolk DA Kevin Hayden said he’ll add two new civil rights prosecutors to handle hate crimes prosecutions. (Boston Globe)

Advocates raise alarms about the heat wave’s impact on prison inmates. (GBH)