Well, the Democrats have done it. Yesterday, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) introduced bills in their respective chambers to increase the number of Supreme Court Justices to thirteen, with hopes to pack the Court with more progressive Justices in an effort to shape the country in their ideological image.
Talk of packing the Supreme Court grew louder during and after the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Court so close to election day 2020. Democrats were enraged that President Trump would dare nominate and the Senate confirm Barrett after the Republicans refused to even consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland several months before election day 2016. The Democrats were dismayed that, with Barrett’s confirmation, the Court now has a clear majority of conservative Justices, since Barrett was seen as the ideological opposite of the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whom Barrett replaced. Determined not to settle for such an ideological shift, progressive Democrats started hatching plans to pack the Court in anticipation of Biden’s victory.
Some leading establishment Democrats, such as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, have spoken against packing the Court. Two liberal Justices, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself, also warned against doing so. The concern is that packing the Court would eradicate its independence from the other branches of government, basically making the Court the political weapon of whatever party happens to be in power at any given time. The fear is that, if the Democrats add four Justices to the Court now, when the Republicans re-gain control of the White House and Congress, as will inevitably happen, they will add four more Justices, thus shaping the Court in its ideological image. This would destroy the credibility of the Supreme Court, making the Judicial branch of our government into little more than an extension of the Executive and Legislative. In a 2020 interview, Ginsburg said, “I have heard that there are some people on the Democratic side who would like to increase the number of judges. If anything would make the court look partisan, it would be that. One side saying, ‘When we’re in power, we’re going to enlarge the number of judges, so we would have more people who would vote the way we want them to.'”
In 1983, then-Senator Joe Biden, as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, brought up the effort by President Franklin Roosevelt to increase the number of Justices to the Supreme Court after Roosevelt was regularly frustrated by decisions of the Court that thwarted his political agenda for the country at the time. Biden said, “President Roosevelt had the right to send to the United States Senate and the United States Congress a proposal to pack the court. It was totally within his right to do that. He violated no law. He was legalistically, absolutely correct. But it was a bonehead idea. It was a terrible, terrible mistake to make. And it put in question, for an entire decade, the independence of the most significant body — including the Congress included in my view — in this country, the Supreme Court of the United States of America.”
During the 2020 campaign, however, Biden refused to answer questions about his support or opposition to packing the Court, even insisting that the American people did not “deserve” to know his intentions on the matter. Only last week, Biden created a commission to study the question of packing the Court. Clearly, Senate and Congressional progressive Democrats were not interested in waiting for Biden’s commission’s recommendations.
At this time, Speaker of the House Pelosi says she supports Biden’s commission studying the question of increasing the number of Justices to the Supreme Court and has no plans at this time to bring the measure to a vote in the House of Representatives. She is not ruling out increasing the number of Justices, however. Pelosi said, “I don’t know that that’s a good idea or a bad idea. I think it’s an idea that to be considered. And I think the president’s taking the right approach to, to have a commission to study such a thing. … It’s not out of the question, it has been done before. … The history of our country a long time ago, and the growth of our country, the size of our country, the growth of our challenges in terms of the economy, etc. might necessitate such a thing.”
As I see it, this is about the worst thing that the Democrats, or the Republicans for that matter, could consider. We live in a time of almost unprecedented political divisions. The two parties are farther apart ideologically than they have been during my lifetime, and that division seems only to be growing and hardening with the advent of Trumpian Republicans and far-left turn by Democrats. Our media elites, as well, seem to relish in both exacerbating and exploiting the political, social, and cultural divisions across our nation. Polls show that many ordinary Americans have lost significant confidence in the integrity of our elections and in the ability of our political leaders to get anything done, or even in their desire to get anything done beyond securing their own positions of power. A naked political power grab, such as packing the Supreme Court, would only solidify the disgust so many have toward our government. Hopefully, wiser minds will prevail in the Democratic camp and this foolish plot will evaporate before it causes more damage than it is worth. Hopefully.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.