Thursday, October 15, 2020


As a response to President Trump nominating  Judge Amy
Barrett to a vacancy on the U.S. supreme court and the
Republican-controlled U.S. senate determined to quickly
confirm her --- all so close to the presidential election ---
some Democratic activists and candidates are advocating
adding more members to the nation’s highest court to
overcome what would be a clear conservative  majority on
the 9-member court.

But first, Democrats must win s majority in the U.S. senate
in November. As of now, they only have 47 seats out of 100.
The would also have to win the presidential election and
keep control of the U.S. house. Many current polls suggest
this is possible --- but I suggest that promising to “pack”
the supreme court gives the Democrats’ Republican
opponents a new and helpful issue at the end of the
election campaign.

The size of the supreme court, in principle, is not a
partisan issue. It  is not specified in the U.S. Constitution,
but with a few small variations in the 19th century, it has
remained at 9 members. Notoriously, at the height of his
power, when his party had large majorities in both houses
in Congress, President Franklin Roosevelt failed to pack
the court with additional liberal justices to counter the
conservative court majority he inherited.  The fact is that
most Americans, Democrats and Republicans, oppose
“packing” the court.

It could be done, but it could just as easily be undone by  a
future president and Congress. Such volatility would clearly
undermine and destabilize the court into politicized chaos.
No wonder most Americans are against it.

Joe Biden refuses to say if he supports packing the court or
not if he were elected president, complaining it is a
“media-created” issue. (Republicans might point out the
irony of his complaint, arguing that “media-created” issues
in 2020 have inevitably helped Democrats!) In political reality,
however, it is  a real issue.

Republican candidates for the U.S. senate, incumbents and
challengers, will ask their opponents whether they would
support packing the supreme court or not. The Democrats’
answers could make a difference in some key elections.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Barry Casselman.  All rights reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment