Some congressional Democrats have introduced a bill to pack the Supreme Court, which would raise the number of justices on the Supreme Court from 9 to 13. It is called the Judiciary Act of 2021.
Several Republicans were quick to criticize the bill, including Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who contended, “The Democrats will do anything for power.”
Packing the Supreme Court would destroy the Supreme Court.
The Democrats will do anything for power.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) April 15, 2021
Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement:
“Republicans stole the Court’s majority, with Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation completing their crime spree. Of all the damage Donald Trump did to our Constitution, this stands as one of his greatest travesties. Senate Republicans have politicized the Supreme Court, undermined its legitimacy, and threatened the rights of millions of Americans, especially people of color, women, and our immigrant communities.”
However, Markey is wrong that it is Republicans who undermined the legitimacy of the Supreme Court.
This current bill would do far more to undermine the legitimacy of the Supreme Court than anything congressional Republicans have done.
Fortunately, some prominent Democrats have voiced opposition to the bill, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said, “I have no intention to bring it to the floor.”
Furthermore, President Joe Biden said during the 2020 presidential campaign that he opposed court packing.
Unfortunately, Biden recently moved to create a commission to study the possibility of expanding the court. The group includes 36 legal scholars.
Biden thus has said he opposes court packing while creating a commission to investigate the possibility of it.
This naturally brings to mind FDR’s court-packing plan after he won the 1936 presidential campaign.
FDR hoped to expand the court so that his New Deal programs would be safe from being struck down as unconstitutional. Fortunately, this never happened and FDR lost a great deal of popularity.
Court packing is a grave problem. Expanding the Supreme Court would greatly reduce its independence from the House and the Senate. Democrats should accept the political process that installed more Republican-nominated justices.
The Supreme Court is one of the more respected political institutions in the country. Court packing could change all this. Installing an additional four Democrat-nominated justices could politicize the Supreme Court as has never been seen before.
The Supreme Court is a guardian of the law and of American legal traditions. Democrats in Congress should accept this.
Without Supreme Court independence, there is a long and difficult road of degrading the rule of law that lies ahead for Americans.
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