Two 6-3 decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States has upset a number of Democrat Congressional Representatives and Senators, renewing demands to pack the Supreme Court with more liberal justices appointed by President Biden.
In the case of Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta, the justices ruled that the state of California could not demand that charities disclose the names of donors, even large donors. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the law could deter donors from giving to charities, knowing that their names would have to be disclosed to the state Attorney General. While California insisted that the information would be kept confidential, past leaks gave the justices little confidence that such confidentiality would be maintained.
The concern, of course, is that donors to unpopular or controversial causes could be targeted and suffer consequences from those who oppose their causes. We don’t have to go back far in history to recall people who lost their jobs, or organized campaigns waged against businesses because their donations to particular causes were disclosed. Can anyone say “Chick-Fil-A”? It’s no wonder that the SCOTUS decision was supported by those on the right and the left. The law was challenged by Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a group with links to the Koch family, well known for supporting conservative causes, and the Thomas More Law Center, a law firm that has taken many cases attacking the civil rights of conservative Christians. On the other end of the spectrum, amicus briefs were filed arguing the law was a violation of First Amendment free speech protections by the ACLU, NAACP, Human Rights Campaign, PETA, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Both the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Zionist Organization of America supported the SCOTUS decision.
Opponents of the decision claim that it will allow “dark money” contributed by political operatives to remain dark. But, we’re talking about charities here, not political campaigns, and Chief Justice Roberts noted that the state of California could not point to significant legal machinations in the donations to these charities that justified the law. Besides, if the state were concerned about such, there are other ways of obtaining the information they would need to pursue a case against a particular charity than a law that exposes every charity.
In the case of Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, the Court ruled that Arizona laws that prohibited ballot harvesting and required voters to submit their votes to their assigned polling place did not violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Ballot harvesting is the practice of political operatives going door-to-door with blank ballots, encouraging people who, supposedly, have difficulties getting to their polling place to fill out a ballot, then delivering those ballots to the polls. It seems that it would be obvious how this process could be corrupted by those operatives only going to homes where they know the resident will vote the way they want them to vote, discarding ballots filled out by voters who don’t vote their way, or even changing votes before turning them in to the polls. Arizona, rightly concerned that ballot harvesting is rife with potential for voter fraud, made it illegal. They also required that voters vote at their assigned polling place as another guard against voter fraud. The Supreme Court found both reasonable protections against voter fraud and allowed them to stand. Conservatives have lauded the decisions and liberals have lambasted it. The DNC challenged the Arizona law in court, but that challenge ultimately failed with the Supreme Courts decision.
The combination of these two decisions has angered many Democrat politicians and reignited calls to pack the Supreme Court, making it possible for Joe Biden to name as many as four or even six new justices. Presumably, these would be liberal justices, thus transferring the balance of power on the court from a supposed 6-3 conservative majority to a 7-6 or 9-6 liberal majority. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY), and others called for packing the Supreme Court with more justices and Markey also called for getting rid of the Senate filibuster. Nancy Pelosi, however, said she would not allow any bill proposing court packing to reach the floor of the House, insisting that she will await the results of Biden’s commission studying the Supreme Court.
Calls for packing the Supreme Court set a dangerous precedent. As has been pointed out by many, including Biden during the Democratic debates, packing the Court would cause the Court to lose its credibility as an independent, objective branch of the federal government. Every time the White House and Senate changed political parties, or even every time the Court ruled in a way the party in power didn’t like, demands would be made to increase the number of justice, presumably with ones who would rule the way these politicians expect. Even that is a roll of the dice, however, given that justices tend to have their own minds and often surprise people with how they rule. Everyone thought Amy Coney Barrett would vote to overturn Obamacare once she took her seat on the Court. She didn’t. If the Supreme Court gets packed with more justices every time they decide in a way the majority party dislikes, the Court will be seen as nothing more than a political tool of the ruling party.
The Supreme Court has had nine justices since 1869. Franklin Roosevelt attempted to pack the Court in the 1930s when the Court ruled against many of his New Deal proposals. He failed. Biden famously once called packing the Court a “bonehead idea.” It still is a bonehead idea. Any confidence the American people have in the Court and in its rulings is contingent on the notion that the Court is not ruled by either or any political party. Take that away, and you take away one of the chief foundation stones of our democracy.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.