Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week undercut the messaging of President Joe Biden and other Democrats on the subject of packing the Supreme Court while delivering remarks on a diplomatic mission in South America.
Blinken delivered a speech on “Making Democracy Deliver for the Americas” while speaking in Quito, Ecuador. In doing so, he undermined the messaging of his boss and Democratic Party proponents for packing the Supreme Court with additional justices.
“Consider a country where a leader is elected in a free and fair election and then sets about chipping away slowly but surely, at the pillars of democracy – attacking the free press, undermining the independence of the courts, threatening political opponents,” Blinken said following a meeting with Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso. “Now, imagine that leader then seeks to use the levers of democracy to pass anti-democratic reforms, eliminating term limits, packing courts, firing legislators.
“That’s the story of more than one democracy in our hemisphere. And it’s one of the ways that democracies can come undone,” the secretary of state also said before heading off to Bogotá, Colombia, the State Department said in a news release.
The threat was simple: If RBG were replaced with a conservative justice before the 2020 election, it would mean all-out war. Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed last October, and the threats kept coming.
“Nothing’s off the table. Everything is on the table,” said then-Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer.
Biden himself avoided the topic of court-packing throughout the last leg of his campaign. Earlier this year, he punted the ball on exploring court-packing to a commission formed through an executive order.
The commission, composed of 36 people appointed by Biden, was to report back to him within 180 days. A week ago, the committee ultimately decided that interfering with the court was a bad idea.
“As a legal matter, we conclude that Congress has broad power to structure the Supreme Court by expanding (or contracting) the number of Justices,” a 28-page draft report from the committee stated. “The prudential question is more difficult, and Commissioners are divided on whether Court expansion would be wise.”
The committee on page 27 of the draft argued that former President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1937 scheme to pack the court with activist jurists who would help his New Deal legislation worked to intimidate the court.
Biden at one point many years ago slammed FDR over the court-packing scheme.
The then-Delaware senator called FDR’s plan a “bonehead idea” and a “terrible mistake” during comments which cited the harm done by the threat of loading the court with judicial sycophants. Biden at the time argued the Supreme Court wasn’t the same for a decade.
Although Biden seems to have forgotten his staunch 1983 opposition to interfering with the court, his own committee remembers how detrimental to the rule of law the threat of expanding the court once was.
Blinken, when speaking in a foreign country this week, also remembered — even if he didn’t necessarily say what he intended to say.
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