District 12 Democratic candidates want to expand the Supreme Court

In Manhattan’s Congressional District 12, both incumbents and insurgents alike believe that the U.S. Supreme Court needs reshaping.

As last week’s consecutive series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions on guns and abortion ripple throught the political establishment, they have teed up a national primary battle within the Democratic party over how to reform the high court.

Many in the party’s progressive flank have called on Democratic leadership to do more to address what they deem “overreach” of the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority.

But legislators who want to expand the Supreme Court or call for the impeachment of the court’s judges are up against a president and a house speaker who have consistently said that they’re not interested in moving forward a law to increase the members of the court.

That dynamic of progressive newcomers versus Democratic leadership over the Supreme Court, however, is not what’s playing out in District 12. Though at least two insurgent candidates Suraj Patel and Ashmi Sheth are running against sitting Congress members Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler, both 30-year incumbents have called on Congress to expand the court.

In fact, Nadler is the one who introduced the house version of the bill that would do just that in April.

“I introduced that bill last April because I knew that an extremist, stacked Court would deliver extremist, destructive decisions. I certainly still support it and all it seeks to accomplish,” he wrote in a statement to amNY. “Last week’s radical Roe decision was further evidence of what so many of us have long been saying: this is a maximalist Supreme Court that is deadset on stripping millions of Americans of fundamental rights that they’ve relied on for decades and destroying its own legitimacy in the process.”

Maloney tweeted after the draft of the Dobbs decision was released in May that she also supports this maneuver, as well as repealing the filibuster in order to get it passed in the House.

Attorney Suraj Patel told amNY that the decision call for “proactive, activist leadership” to chart a way forward for Democrats. 

“I support expanding and reforming this court and putting in term limits rather than lifetime appointments on unelected judges in the entire federal judiciary,” Patel said. He called the ruling overturning New York’s concealed carry law “an incredibly extremist retrograde reading of the constitution that not even the founding fathers had intended.”

In her response to the concealed carry ruling, Maloney appealed to public approval of regulations on firearms.

“Not only is the majority ruling out of touch with the American people, it is also out of touch with any reasonable interpretation of the Constitution,” Maloney said in a statement.

Nadler said that he would continue to pass federal gun control legislation, referencing the Protecting Our Kids Act, a package of eight bills that moved through the House Judiciary Committee and passed the house, but is unlikely to win approval by the 50-50 Senate.

The other District 12 insurgent Ashmi Sheth has made statements publicly opposing both abortion and concealed carry rulings, but her campaign staff did not respond to multiple requests on whether she supported expanding the Supreme Court.