Conversations on the court and country; our time with Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04)
June 29, 2023 is a different kind of day.
The decisions rendered by the US Supreme Court clearly raise a few eyebrows; with potentially adverse impacts on Affirmative Action (click HERE) along with the clear and present danger regarding LBGTQ protections (along with potential indirect impacts on other demographic audiences - click HERE to find out more), there's an air of concern given the court's current course of action. Add the related consequences and after-effects of last summer's Dobbs case (click HERE to find out more), there's a growing sentiment to see what can be done with an entity who while appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, has minimal if any direct accountability to the people.
This past Thursday (July 6, 2023), I'm fortunate to have a conversation with Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04) given the recent decisions. As a 17-year member of Congress who serves on the judiciary and transportation and infrastructure committees, he shares his concerns with the current makeup on the Supreme Court along with the potential ramifications.
"It was still shocking to see this court declare Affirmative Action as unconstitutional", he notes. He also shares how shocking it is to see the misuse the Equal Protection Clause (enacted in 1869); given the clause's original intent of augmenting protections provided by the 14th Amendment in having safeguards including (but not limited to) equal protection under the law for African-Americans (and in turn, underserved communities), to see it used in such a distorted manner to essentially gut said protections and only enhance protections for an audience which is already protected (and at the expense of black and brown people in this country) is beyond alarming (you may watch the segment below):
A related part of our conversation is on the growing call for expanding the Supreme Court. Historically speaking, court expansion has taken place 7 times in US history, most recently in 1869 to its present composition of 9 justices.
Yes, you read that correctly, in that the last time the court is expanded is nearly 160 years ago.
It may be safe to say given the country's population at the time (approximately 37 million people) to its current estimation of 330 million people, Congress (who has the authority to expand the court), may consider revisiting the expansion conversation and make changes reflective of the needs at hand, be it population-related or beyond, let alone tenure/term limits for federal and Supreme Court justices, let alone it current ideological approach which may be more counterproductive and backward-moving compared to in addressing the needs of the larger community and population along with protecting and potentially enhancing people's rights (you may watch the segment where we discuss below):
In addition to touching base on other consequences from education, healthcare, and gun-control, Congressman Johnson provides words of insight to not only those in his district, but in general regarding the larger political process. With emphasis on the importance of the vote, including a timely message from the late Congressman John Lewis, along with people "take that guidance to heart" and if people want to make change, he notes, "We've got to vote in our interests; we don't need to vote against our interests as we need to be educated in our voting" (you may view the segment below):
Getting a sense of the contemporary along with the past is an underlying theme throughout our full interview. With a Supreme Court makeup likely to be along these lines for an extended period of time (perhaps another 20-30 years), the conversations on its expansion given the current ideological as well as growing population concerns are ones to be monitored. Even with the political landscape being what it currently is, with improved engagement from voting and beyond, there's the prospect and potential for change.
And Congressman Johnson is among those committed to said change to provide more constructive gains for the district and beyond (to view the complete conversation, you may watch and view below):
Notes: To view the complete playlist of our conversation/interview, you may visit our YouTube channel and click HERE.