“How to Discipline a Rogue Supreme Court
You're reading the Jamelle Bouie newsletter, for Times subscribers only. Historical context for present-day events.
The Supreme Court does not exist above the constitutional system.
It can shape the constitutional order, it can say what the Constitution means, but it cannot shield itself from the power of the other branches. The Supreme Court can be checked and the Supreme Court can be balanced.
It is tempting, in the immediate wake of the court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, to say that there’s nothing to be done about the reactionary majority on the court. But that’s just not true. The Constitution provides a number of paths by which Congress can restrain and discipline a rogue court.
It can impeach and remove justices. It can increase or decrease the size of the court itself (at its inception, the Supreme Court had only six members). It can strip the court of its jurisdiction over certain issues or it can weaken its power of judicial review by requiring a supermajority of justices to sign off on any decision that overturns a law. Congress can also rebuke the court with legislation that simply cancels the decision in question.
In the face of a reckless, reactionary and power-hungry court, Congress has options. The problem is politics. Despite the arrogance of the current Supreme Court — despite its almost total lack of democratic legitimacy — there is little to no appetite within the Democratic Party for a fight over the nature of the court and its place in our constitutional system. For many Democrats, President Roosevelt’s attempt to expand the size of the court is less a triumph than a cautionary tale — a testament to the limits of presidential leadership and presidential power.
But Roosevelt did eventually get a Supreme Court that allowed most of the New Deal to stand. The threat worked. The court was humbled.
It will take time to build the kind of power and consensus needed to make significant changes to the court. But even the work of amassing that power and putting that consensus together can stand as a credible threat to a Supreme Court that has acted, under conservative control, as if it stands above the constitutional system, unaccountable to anyone other than itself.
The power to check the Supreme Court is there, in the Constitution. The task now is to seize it.
Mark Joseph Stern on the Supreme Court’s next targets in Slate magazine.
Jia Tolentino on the end of Roe v. Wade in The New Yorker.
Patricia Cline Cohen on the bad history behind Justice Alito’s opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health in The Washington Post.
Yvette Borja on the new “mask-off” era of the Supreme Court at Balls and Strikes.
Cristian Farias on the fall of Roe and the rise of the Republican Court in Vanity Fair.
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Photo of the Week
I was in Farmville, Va., recently and took a few pictures of its main street, which has a lot of interesting and colorful buildings. This is one of them.
Now Eating: One-Pot Turmeric Coconut Rice With Greens
A typical meal in my home consists of some kind of fish prepared simply along with some kind of rice pilaf, like this one. My only real advice is to use more lime juice and more herbs than this calls for. If you want to add a whole bunch of chopped cilantro, you should add a whole bunch of chopped cilantro. Recipe comes from NYT Cooking.
2 cups long-grain rice, such as jasmine or basmati
½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tablespoon white or black sesame seeds
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 scallion, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon black pepper, plus more as needed
1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
1 medium bunch kale, spinach or Swiss chard
Rinse rice until water runs clear. Drain and set aside.
In a medium pot or Dutch oven, toast the coconut and sesame seeds over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. (Adjust heat as needed to prevent burning.) Transfer to a small bowl. Wipe out the pot.
In the same pot, melt the coconut oil over medium-low. Add the scallion whites, turmeric and ½ teaspoon black pepper and cook, stirring, until aromatic and lightly toasted, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the rice, coconut milk, saffron (if using), and 1 ½ teaspoons salt. Fill the empty can of coconut milk with water and add it to the pot. Give the mixture a good stir to separate any lumps and bring to a boil over medium-high.
Once boiling, cover, turn the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes.
As rice cooks, remove and discard the tough stems of the leafy greens, if needed, and cut or tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. When the rice has cooked for 10 minutes, arrange the greens on top of the rice in an even layer and season well with salt and pepper. Cover, and cook until the rice is tender, 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, 5 minutes.
As rice rests, zest the lime and cut it into 4 wedges. Add ½ teaspoon zest to the coconut-sesame mixture, along with the scallion greens. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.
Gently stir the greens into the rice using a spatula or fork, season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls. Sprinkle the coconut mixture on top and serve with a lime wedge for squeezing over.”
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