7 Reasons We Need 9 Justices on the Supreme Court

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August 11, 2016

It’s been six months since Justice Antonin Scalia’s death left a vacancy on the nation’s highest court. President Obama named Judge Merrick Garland to the bench — but Senate Republicans refuse to even hold a hearing on his nomination. There are many reasons why eight justices are not enough. Among them:

  1. It’s the law! The Constitution is clear. Article II, Section 2 provides that the president "shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint . . . Judges of the Supreme Court." The Judiciary Act of 1869 stipulates that the Court shall consist of one chief justice and eight—not seven—associate justices.
  2. Lambda Legal depends on fully functioning courts in making the case for equality. Court victories are a path to equality for LGBT people, people of color, women and other groups that face discrimination. Anti-LGBT state legislation like we’ve seen in North Carolina, Mississippi and elsewhere around the country could be left unchecked, unless we have a full Supreme Court.
  3. G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board. Just last week, the Supreme Court stayed a federal court decision to let Gavin Grimm, a transgender student in Virginia, use the same restrooms as other boys at his school. That means Gavin will either have to use the girls’ room or suffer the indignity of being consigned to a single-user restroom while the Court decides whether to hear his case.
  4. Zubik v. Burwell. In May, the Court deadlocked on the second challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefits. The justices sent the case back to lower courts without answering any of the key questions. We need a full Supreme Court to secure the Act’s birth control provision, which is a core aspect of gender equality. Contraceptives are essential elements of preventive health care for many women and for some transgender men not just for pregnancy prevention but also to reduce risk of certain cancers, to alleviate pelvic pain, and to prevent or manage other health conditions. Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case.
  5. U.S. v Texas. A 4-4 vote by the Court left in place a harmful lower court decision blocking certain of President Obama’s programs to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation. The Justice Department has asked the Court for a rehearing — but not until there are nine justices on the bench. Without a full Supreme Court, millions of immigrants continue living in fear and uncertainty, with LGBT immigrants remaining particularly vulnerable. Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief in this case as well.
  6. Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley. This upcoming term, the Court is set to decide whether Missouri can enforce a provision of its state constitution that excludes churches from receiving government grants. Lambda Legal also filed a friend-of-the-court brief in this case. It’s important to have a full Court send a clear message that government funds cannot be used to discriminate.
  7. More than 29,000 people have signed Lambda Legal’s petition demanding Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Garland. Add your voice. Tell Senators #DoYourJob. Sign the petition.

Already signed the petition? Share this graphic on social media to “congratulate” the Senate on its record-breaking obstructionism – and to encourage all your friends to sign the petition telling them to do their job:

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P.S. Help Lambda Legal make the case for equality at our nation’s highest court. Give your most generous gift today!