Protesters urge Schumer to expand Supreme Court following immunity ruling for presidents

supreme court schumer protest
Political activists called on Senator Chuck Schumer to expand the Supreme Court to 13 judges at a July 2 rally at Grand Army Plaza.
Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

A day after the Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling that Donald Trump — and future presidents — are immune from prosecution for any of their official acts in office, activists with Indivisible Brooklyn and Rise and Resist gathered for a rally at Grand Army Plaza, where they called on Sen. Chuck Schumer to expand the Supreme Court.

Initial plans to protest outside the senate majority leader’s home in Park Slope were thwarted by NYPD officers, who barricaded three blocks out from the entrance, forcing protesters to hold the rally outside the barricades.

Addressing a crowd of close to 30 activists, INBK member Bryony Romer called the recent ruling a threat to the country’s democracy. 

“If it wasn’t clear before, it’s clear now, expanding the court is the only route to protecting our democracy,” Romer said. “We need Chuck Schumer as our elected leader to come out and say so.”

Political activists called on Senator Chuck Schumer to expand the Supreme Court to 13 judges during a July 2 rally.

Since its formation in 1790, the Supreme Court has been expanded seven times, with the last expansion to the current nine seats occurring in 1869. Activists have called on Schumer to support the Judiciary Act, or H.R. 3422, which would expand the Supreme Court from nine to 13 judges, aiming to restore and protect constitutional rights and democracy.

Jay Walker, a member of political action group Rise and Resist, described the six conservative Supreme Court judges as “radicals tearing down the separation of powers.”

On June 28, the Supreme Court overturned the 40-year-old Chevron doctrine, limiting the broad regulatory authority of federal agencies and making it more challenging to regulate environmental protection, public health, worker protection, food and drug safety, telecommunications, and the financial sector, among others. And on Monday, they ruled that former presidents are shielded from prosecutions for actions taken within their constitutional authority.

“We have to look not just to this decision about giving Trump immunity. We also have to look at the Chevron case,” Walker said. “What the Court has done in the Chevron case is they have removed regulatory power from the experts in the fields in all of our federal regulatory agencies. That is a power grab by the Supreme Court. That is a judicial coup.”

Jay Walker described the six conservative Supreme Court judges as ‘radicals.’Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Walker is also a member of the “Stop the Coup 2025” campaign, which fights “Project 2025” — a radical 920-page document by conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation that outlines what’s in store for America should Trump win the 2024 presidential election. 

“This agenda is inherently white supremacist, inherently misogynist. It is inherently anti-immigrant; it is inherently anti-LGBTQ+,” Walker pointed out. “It is against the freedom to assemble. It is against the freedom of what we are doing right now, which is using our freedom of speech to protest egregious actions by people within our government. We all need to band together to put a stop to this. We need to expand the Court to undo as much of the harm as we possibly can that has been done by this current radical conservative Supreme Court.”

Activists took turns reading Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s scathing descent. Sotomayor said the ruling made “a mockery of the principle, foundational to our Constitution and system of Government that no man is above the law.”

Brooklynite Lynn Yellin said Monday’s SCOTUS ruling gave the president ‘the powers of a king.’

Brooklynite Lynn Yellin said the Supreme Court has been out of control since then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell obstructed the hearing or vote of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court in 2016.

“We are in a crisis because the most recent ruling essentially gives our president powers of the king, and the so-called textualists on the Court are ignoring the text of the Constitution,” Yellin said, adding that the issue spans far beyond a potential Trump reelection.

“We are in danger if Donald Trump is elected, but even if he’s not, this is a long-term issue,” she said. “Presidents are not supposed to be above the law, and that ruling is essentially giving them a position above the law. I don’t think most Americans want that.”

Activists called on Schumer to get the Supreme Court in order.Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Rise and Resist member Julie DeLaurier said that, prior to Tuesday, her group has always assembled in front of Schumer’s residence.

“We’re a bunch of middle-aged protesters, we’re clearly terribly dangerous. We must be terrifying for Senator Schumer,” DeLaurier joked. “If he’s this scared of us, how is he going to stand up to Donald Trump?”

Schumer’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.