One of the most commonly-used online dictionaries has updated the definition of a term that has rightfully carried a negative connotation for decades.
And it appears Democrats were designed to be the benefactors of the change.
At some point from Nov. 1 to Dec. 1, Dictionary.com quietly updated its definition of the term “court packing.”
The rationale for the company was that language evolves.
Of course, that is often the case, as the meanings of words can and do change drastically throughout years, decades and centuries. But the explanation doesn’t pass the smell test.
A Twitter user named J.D. Graham shared screen shots comparing the website’s definition of court packing just before the November election, and what the definition was changed to within a month.
Latest capture on 11/1: https://t.co/3MdrEMAmnx
— J. D. Graham (@jd_graham_) December 8, 2020
The site in November, and presumably for years prior, had defined court packing as the following:
“[A]n unsuccessful attempt by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937 to appoint up to six additional justices to the Supreme Court, which had invalidated a number of his New Deal laws.”
But now, the term means something completely different.
“[T]he practice of changing the number or composition of judges on a court, making it more favorable to particular goals or ideologies, and typically involving an increase in the number of seats on the court: Court packing can tip the balance of the Supreme Court toward the right or left,” reads the updated definition.
That escalated quickly. The site still uses the original definition, but it’s now secondary.
The folks at Dictionary.com were heavily criticized by many people who saw Graham’s post. The company even decided to respond with a defense for their quick rewriting of language.
“Language evolves. So do we,” claimed the dictionary’s Twitter account.
Language evolves. So do we.
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) December 8, 2020
Court packing, or the threat thereof, is as nasty as it was in 1937, no matter how many dictionaries suddenly attempt to rewrite history.
Nothing about court packing has changed — other than the fact that this time around, it is presumptive President-elect Joe Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who might violate judiciary norms.
Generally, when word definitions are updated, there is an overall consensus that a word is being used differently in the culture than it previously was. That hasn’t happened here.
Semantic change certainly doesn’t occur in the time frame of a couple of months.
What has happened here is Biden and Harris both for months refused to affirm or deny whether they would pack additional justices onto the court if they were elected.
That controversy began after a number of threats from high-level Democrats, who were angered by President Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett in September following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Barrett is now Justice Barrett, so that battle was fought and won in the Senate by President Donald Trump and Republicans. But now, Democrats have a pretty good shot at occupying the White House and taking away the GOP’s Senate majority. They already have a slim majority in the House.
A Supreme Court expanded with leftist activist judges might be a real possibility.
But leftists control academia, tech and numerous other American institutions, so some of them at one of the internet’s biggest dictionaries apparently have decided that court packing might not shine such a bright light on Democrats. So now the term has a shiny new definition.
You have to assume the updated definition is simply another attempt by someone with a position of authority — this time over the language we share — to run interference for Democrats.
The evolution of language excuse from Dictionary.com is a lazy one, to say the least.
Politically motivated individuals with the power to edit can’t make court packing any less egregious. What they can do is harm the ability for healthy debate over the issue — and others down the road.
For healthy discourse to be possible, parties must be in agreement on at least a certain set of facts, such as language.
What’s happened here is one side has been given precedent to argue with a different set of facts than the other.
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