Rashida Tlaib Is Right About the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is an unelected super-legislature that is riven with bribery and corruption, in addition to justices’ extreme antimajoritarian views. Rashida Tlaib’s call for impeachment and reform is causing outrage, but she’s right.

The United States, we’re often told, is the greatest democracy the world has ever seen. Everyone born here is a citizen, along with plenty of people who weren’t, and all adult citizens have the right to vote. We have unusually extensive protections of free speech and freedom of the press so voters can make informed decisions. And if you don’t like how your elected representatives are acting, everyone from your congressmember to your senator to the president of the United States can be voted out of office.

Of course, this appealing picture elides how, in some ways, the United States is less democratic than many other nations. Lots of other electoral systems, for example, make it easier than ours for voters to choose between more than two political parties, and our campaign finance laws make it unusually easy for moneyed interests to bribe politicians.

And the picture becomes vastly less appealing once we notice the existence of the Supreme Court. At least corrupt politicians can be voted out of office. The nine justices of the Supreme Court aren’t elected in the first place. And, as Clarence Thomas in particular has been proving for the last year, they can get away with being showered with “gifts” from wealthy friends with no consequences whatsoever. Thomas remains one of the nine people our system vests with the authority to overturn laws passed by elected representatives — for the rest of his life.

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