People For the American Way Foundation

New Report Details Consequences of an Eight-Member Supreme Court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 20, 2016

Contact: Laura Epstein at People For the American Way Foundation

Email: media@pfaw.org

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

Other: Array

Today, People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF) and the Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC) released the new report, “Material Harm to Our System of Justice: The Consequences of an Eight-Member Supreme Court.”

The report details:

  • Statements by current and former Supreme Court justices – including Scalia, Rehnquist, and Roberts – on the importance of a nine-justice Supreme Court.
  • Ramifications we’ve already seen from an eight-member Court. This includes the effects of 4-4 decisions like Hawkins v. Community Bank of Raymore and Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, and the Supreme Court punting in Zubik v. Burwell.
  • The growing ideological divisions on the Court, making split decisions more likely.
  • Why an eight-member Court could endanger voting rights leading up to the 2016 elections.
  • How individuals and companies are impacted by an eight-member Court on a wide variety of issues including healthcare, banking, and more.

Read the report here.

Constitutional Accountability Center President Elizabeth Wydra stated:

“The virus of dysfunction afflicting the Senate is showing symptoms at the Court, and the prospect of this blockade extending from the current Term into the next is outrageous. Former Justices have spoken on the need for a fully staffed Court, including former Chief Justice Rehnquist and even Justice Scalia in years past, as well as former Justices Stevens and O'Connor in recent weeks. As today’s report explains, an understaffed Court is hamstrung by its inability to fully perform its essential role in resolving important constitutional and legal questions for the American people.”

People For the American Way Foundation Senior Fellow Elliot Mincberg added:

“The current obstruction that President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Garland is facing is unprecedented, and there are real consequences for the American people because of this obstruction. Current and former Supreme Court justices – including Scalia, Roberts, and Rehnquist – have detailed the reasons why the Court needs nine members to properly execute its duties. From 4-4 splits that fail to set national precedent to potentially blocking the Court’s ability to protect voting rights, an eight-member Supreme Court simply cannot function as it should.”

To schedule an interview with PFAW Foundation and/or CAC experts on this report, please email lepstein@pfaw.org or Pennington@theusconstitution.org.

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