The State of the Courts at the State of the Union

Press Release


Press Contact


Zack Ford
zack.ford@afj.org
202-464-7370

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 7, 2023 – Tonight President Biden will present his first State of the Union address since several important milestones in our courts. 

There are positives to celebrate, including the confirmation of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, one of an unprecedented 97 confirmations to our federal courts during the first two years of the Biden administration. These new judges are changing the face of our courts, including many women of color, former public defenders, and former civil rights lawyers. With an extra seat, Senate Democrats are well-positioned to accelerate judicial confirmations this year, and we are urging swift movement. 

Unfortunately, it is a concerning time for our courts, especially the Supreme Court. Last year’s Dobbs decision overturning the right to an abortion has devastated access to reproductive health care across the country. The Supreme Court faces an all-time low favorability, thanks not only to its extremist opinions but also a cavalcade of ethics crises. Meanwhile, the lower courts — in particular the judges appointed by President Trump — are wreaking havoc on public policy and civil rights. 

Alliance for Justice President Rakim H.D. Brooks issued the following statement: 

“The State of the Union is an important opportunity to reflect on the state of our democracy. When it comes to the impact our courts are having, this is a dire moment. The conservative extremists on the Supreme Court and lower courts are dismantling our civil rights, compromising our access to the polls, and making it harder for us to stay safe and healthy. These developments are not sudden, but the result of a decades-long trajectory set by Republican leaders determined to take over the courts. 

“We cannot pretend that the ship of our democracy will right itself without taking drastic action. We are overdue for substantial reforms. Our Supreme Court needs term limits, the accountability of a code of ethics, and expansion to relieve us from its extreme politicization. We likewise must expand our lower courts and fill every vacancy with judges prepared to serve the needs of all people, not just the wealthy and powerful. 

“President Biden knows the courts better than any recent president, and we look forward to his continued leadership in ensuring the United States truly upholds justice for all.”