Pennsylvanians Can’t Afford to Sit Out in 2024

Voters in the Commonwealth showed this year that they wouldn’t stand for big-money donors distorting our state courts. Well, it’s time to do the same for our federal courts.
Demonstrators hold signs with the faces of SCOTUS justices at an abortion rights rally at Foley Square in New York City. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Millions of regular Pennsylvanians cast their ballots this year to ensure their voices and votes weren’t drowned out by the record-breaking campaign spending of billionaire donors and shadowy out-of-state groups looking to purchase influence among our state court system. It was a long, expensive, and tiring election season for our Commonwealth. So tiring, in fact, that one could almost be forgiven for thinking that it’s alright to shut off until the presidential election next November. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Next year is about more than just the presidential election, it will also feature several major down ballot races, including one seat in the U.S. Senate and races in each of Pennsylvania’s 17 Congressional districts. Each of these elections could play a critical role in determining the future of our federal courts, but especially that of the scandal-plagued MAGA justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2024, the Court will decide several major cases that could have far reaching consequences for the rights and freedoms of every last Pennsylvanian. Just like we did in our state court elections this year, it’s up to us to turn out in 2024 and ensure that our federal judiciary is fair and fighting to preserve equal justice. 

A quick scan of the Court’s current docket could leave you dizzy. There’s Moore v. United States, a case which could undermine decades of established tax law in a naked attempt to protect millionaires and billionaires from paying their fair share; next is Alexander v. South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, a pivotal case which could effectively legalize racial gerrymandering across the nation and allow extremist legislators to strip voters of color, and especially Black voters, of their right to real political representation. The Court will also hear cases covering questions on environmental protection, consumer protection from predatory companies, and whether domestic abusers should be allowed to own firearms, to name a few more. 

With stakes so high, it’s essential that the judges hearing these cases be fair minded, impartial, and trusted by regular Americans. Unfortunately, that’s far from the case with the MAGA justices on our U.S. Supreme Court today.

The past year has been a stain on the Court’s reputation, with increasingly more shocking news being reported on unacceptable conflicts of interests held by several MAGA justices, but none more so than Justice Clarence Thomas. The details of the reports regarding Thomas are utterly ridiculous in their excess: superyacht voyages, private jet flights, and tropical vacations over the span of twenty years, all paid for by extremist billionaires and none of which were disclosed by the justice. Just this week, Pennsylvanians and millions of our fellow Americans from all around the country were taken aback by the news that these gifts started pouring in shortly after Thomas complained to a conservative lawmaker about not making enough money. 

This constant stream of scandals and ethics issues surrounding Thomas and other MAGA justices has led members of both chambers of Congress to call for more transparency and accountability by creating a new code of ethics for the Court (the same kind of code that Pennsylvania judges abide by and that is enforced by a judicial conduct board – no such board exists for the Supreme Court). That’s where the 2024 elections come in. 

Pennsylvanians of all walks of life and political stripes need to show out next year and make clear that we support Congressional candidates who are in favor of holding our U.S. Supreme Court to the same, if not higher, standards that we hold the Pennsylvania judiciary. There’s too much at stake to sit this one out or look the other way while billionaires continue to throw money and gifts at members of the highest court in the land in an attempt to pass policies that can’t move legislatively.

This November, Pennsylvanians proved that real power in the Commonwealth lies with regular voters like you and me. Now it’s time to do the same in 2024. Our next statewide election is Tuesday, April 23, 2024 (Primary Election). The last day to register to vote or change/choose a political party – unaffiliated voters cannot vote for a candidate in Pennsylvania’s closed primary elections – is Monday, April 8, 2024. 

We must vote in every election – twice a year.

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Kadida Kenner

Kadida Kenner is the CEO of the New Pennsylvania Project, a statewide voting rights organization with a primary focus on voter registration, civic engagement and mobilization, and co-chair of Why Courts Matter — Pennsylvania, a campaign educating Pennsylvanians about the importance of the independence of both the federal and state courts. She writes from Chester County.

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