Expanding Supreme Court is not a good thing
Published 2:39 pm Friday, April 16, 2021
A group of congressional Democrats introduced legislation this week to add four seats to the Supreme Court, a long-shot bid designed to counter the court’s rightward tilt during the Trump administration and criticized by Republicans as a potential power grab that would reduce the public’s trust in the judiciary.
The fight over the composition of the nine-member court has become increasingly contentious over the past two decades, with fierce battles over nominees and acrimonious debates about the politicization of the judicial branch.
Supporters of expanding the court say Republicans gained an unfair advantage by blocking President Barack Obama’s 2016 nomination of Merrick Garland, a federal appeals judge at the time who is now Biden’s attorney general, under the rationale that it was a presidential election year and the voters should decide. McConnell refused to hold hearings on filling the vacancy after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, even though the November election was months away.
Last year, McConnell and the Republican-controlled Senate confirmed President Donald Trump’s nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, to fill Ginsburg’s seat just days before the presidential election, securing a likely conservative majority for years to come.
President Joe Biden’s executive order creating a commission to conduct a study of the U.S. Supreme Court is about one thing — court packing, expanding the nine-member court by an as yet undetermined number of justices whose only qualification will be a pledge to carry out the political agenda of the Democratic Party’s left wing.
The bill, which would change the makeup of the court for the first time in 150 years, is unlikely to move forward even with Democrats in control of Congress. But its introduction opened a new front in the escalating partisan war over the judiciary, drawing outrage from Republicans, who called it a power grab.
Whether you call it “packing the court” or “necessary reform,” it’s time for pause on fundamental change to the U.S. system that stands to have long-term impact, mostly negative.
Even liberal icon, the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, rejected the idea of altering the court.
“[I]f anything would make the court appear partisan then it would be [court packing], one side saying, ‘When we’re in power we’re going to enlarge the number of judges so we’ll have more people who will vote the way we want them to,’” Ginsburg said.
The bottom line is that one party altering the court while it has power will lead to a cycle. When the other party has power, it will respond.
The important role of the Supreme Court as a non-political arbiter will be lost. The court would become a political body that the founders did not envision it becoming.
Making changes for the politics of today stands to cut at the foundation of the United States. Democrats now, and Republicans at some point, would be wise to stand back and leave the foundation of the high court alone.
The problem is not with the Supreme Court, but it is with the politicians in Washington. Perhaps, it is time to seriously consider term limits for our congressmen and senators.