A nationwide bus tour calling for Supreme Court justice reforms made a stop in Houston on Friday. Elected officials and advocacy groups say they’re concerned about the country’s direction.
The "Just Majority ” Campaign which began in Boston in April, is a 20-stop nationwide bus tour. The campaign is calling for changes to the supreme court after they said there have been growing concerns around recent ethics scandals surrounding Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for failing to disclose luxury gifts he received from a conservative billionaire, and partisan rulings after Roe v. Wade was overturned. The campaign consists of over 30 organizations fighting for gun violence prevention, reproductive rights, court reforms, and racial justice.
"I grew up with such awe because I am a child of the Brown versus Topeka Board of Education decision," said Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee. "I look to the hills for the Supreme Court to give me hope."
Jackson-Lee was joined by civil rights advocates Martin Luther King III, Rashad Robinson, President of Color of Change, Wanda Mosley, National Field Director of Black Voters Matter, and Shellie Haynes-McMahon, Co-Director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes.
She said local residents need to be able to have confidence in the Supreme Court.
"I know that our city depends upon a fair and balanced United States Supreme Court, and criminal justice matters and reproductive rights matters in education matters," she said. "As we face discrimination in our public schools, by states that don’t pay attention to diversity and the ability to teach our history – we rely upon the United States Supreme Court in the 14th Amendment, the 15th Amendment."
Demands the campaign is pushing are expansion of the Supreme Court and adding about three to four seats to the court, impose term limits and a stronger code of ethics.
"The Dobb's decision was the first time I believe that the court took an exclusive decision and moved backward," said Martin Luther King III. "So the remedy has to be expansion."
King said his parents fought for equality and justice in this country and that's showing in the Supreme Court.
“If he and my mother were here, I know they would be greatly disappointed. In fact, I think my dad is just spinning in his grave and my mom," he said. "We are truly a better nation than the behavior we exhibit, but we can never accomplish what we need to accomplish unless we come together through organizations and voters. Know that it only takes a few good women and men to bring about change."
Shellie Hayes-McMahon with Planned Parenthood Texas said her organization advocates for reproductive healthcare, but reproductive rights have been stripped for many.
"We recognize that this assault on our rights extends far beyond this issue," she said. "Presidential administrations and conservative Senate majorities have manipulated our judicial system."
Hayes-McMahon said Texas is experiencing many decisions of the Supreme Court.
"We have seen it here in Texas, where Texans are suffering to the point of death. The ending of our federal constitutional right to abortion, they have eroded our access to essential health care, they have attacked the very existence and dignity of LGBTQ people."
She said that's why it's important to push for judicial reforms.
"By implementing these necessary reforms, we can reclaim the very essence of justice and ensure that our courts truly represent the people’s will, protecting our democracy for generations to come."
Houston was the first stop in Texas. The tour will be making stops in Austin and Dallas.