Washington, D.C. — Today, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) announced support for a number of additional policies to reform our federal courts. As our nation faces ongoing threats to reproductive freedom, civil rights, and our democratic systems and institutional norms, this expanded position includes support for Supreme Court expansion, term limits, and additional federal court reform measures.
As many of Planned Parenthood’s allies and partners across various movements for justice have already made clear, court reform is essential for maintaining a critical foundation of a just democracy. A fair, balanced, and equitable judiciary is essential to protect and advance justice and equality.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Jen Psaki, Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, described the explicit and devastating consequences of the federal courts not protecting or supporting fundamental rights. An excerpt of that interview is available here.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“The fight to strengthen our democracy and bolster our institutions has always been intertwined with the fight for reproductive freedom. As we continue to face unrelenting attacks on our basic freedoms, our courts must be one backstop to protecting our rights. Instead, the courts have been used as a vehicle to advance a dangerous agenda against abortion rights, voting rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and so much more. Planned Parenthood refuses to accept that our courts can only exist as they do now, and understands that reforms are integral to building the public’s trust that the courts can and will function to uphold hard-won freedoms and advance justice for future generations. PPFA’s expanded position is a continuation of our commitment to ensure that everyone, no matter where they live, has the freedom to make their own decisions about their own bodies, lives, and futures.”
PPFA’s expanded court reform position includes:
- Expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court and put term limits in place for justices.
- The Supreme Court hasn’t been expanded for 150 years — meanwhile the U.S. has become much more diverse, the population has multiplied by more than 10, and the volume of cases brought before the federal judiciary has significantly increased.
- Supreme Court justices are also now serving significantly longer terms than their predecessors — often 30 or more years on the bench.
- Impose ethics and transparency requirements for Supreme Court justices.
- Supreme Court justices aren’t forced to follow a binding code of conduct. Justices aren’t prevented from owning and trading stocks, have poorly defined rules around accepting gifts — and there are no clear consequences for most unethical behavior.
- This makes it possible for outside groups and individuals to influence justices in ways that we know nothing about.
- Add seats for additional judges on lower courts to keep up with the growing U.S. population and caseload.
- The federal judiciary is increasingly overburdened and there aren’t enough judges to keep up with the growing U.S. population and caseloads. In 2021, 419,032 cases were filed in federal district courts and 44,546 were filed in the U.S. Courts of Appeals.
- It’s been more than 30 years since Congress last comprehensively expanded the number of lower court seats — the longest period of time between expansions in the history of district courts and courts of appeals.
- Prevent single-judge divisions and stop allowing interest groups to pick and choose where to file cases, so no group can guarantee that a favorable judge decides their case.
- Interest groups can shop for judges who align with their views — often judges they’ve helped get confirmed — and then deliberately send them cases, knowing they will decide against reproductive freedom, gender equity, LGBTQ+ liberation, access to health care, and civil liberties.
This announcement follows continued engagement from Planned Parenthood on court reform, including previous campaigns to Reclaim Our Courts.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health care for all people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With nearly 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect, and without judgment, striving to create equitable access to health care. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable education and information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports the independently incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates operating health centers across the U.S.