Samuel Alito Is Wrong and Arrogant—and Must Be Reined In

In other
words, Congress was expressly given the ultimate authority to limit or remove
the most critical power of the court, its appellate jurisdiction. Indeed, Democratic Congressman Sean Casten of Illinois has proposed a bill to remove most of the
court’s appellate authority and give it to a special Court of Appeals. Beyond
that, Congress, from the get-go, has regulated the nature of the Supreme Court
and the judicial system, starting with the First Congress and the seminal
Federal Judiciary Act of 1789. It established the modern federal court system,
including circuit courts and district courts, and set the Supreme Court at six
justices, one chief justice, and five associate justices. It also included a
fierce debate over whether establishing a robust judicial branch could lead to
judicial tyranny—a position led by the group of Framers closest in outlook to
Alito, the Anti-Federalists.

That was
followed by the Judiciary Act of 1793, which put in place a series of
regulations on court activities and required all justices to “ride circuit”—to
sit periodically on local circuits, something the justices despised but had to accept
as a legitimate power of Congress. Many subsequent statutes regulating the
judiciary have been passed since. As Amanda Frost has written, “Almost everyone
accepts Congress’s broad authority to enact legislation affecting the
day-to-day operations of the Court.” Congress has passed statutes authorizing
justices to hire librarians, marshals, clerks, and secretaries; it established
a quorum requirement of six justices to sit and decide cases, established the
dates of court sessions, and gave it the oath of office requirement.

Ethics requirements?
Congress over the past 30 years has subjected all federal judges, including
Supreme Court justices, to financial disclosure, created stringent limitations
on gifts, including defining what constitutes a gift, and set limits on outside
income. While Alito has not complied fully with these requirements, he has
filed his disclosure reports, making clear that at least implicitly, he accepts
Congress’s authority to regulate behavior on the Supreme Court.