(UnitedVoice.com) – The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is supposed to check and balance the legislative and executive branches of government. However, that’s not how Democrats see the nation’s highest court. Instead of ensuring adherence to the Constitution, the Democrats want an activist Court to uphold their policies even if the laws they pass don’t meet the standard. To help make that happen, on Wednesday, January 27, President Joe Biden kicked off the process to consider packing the Court.
In the four years Donald Trump was president, he had an opportunity few presidents receive. The former president appointed hundreds of constitutionally conservative judges, transforming the federal judiciary. However, his three conservative Supreme Court nominations secured his place in history. The three justices tipped the court from being almost evenly divided between Republican and Democratic presidential picks to one with a solid 6-3 conservative majority. Court packing could change all that.
What Is Court-Packing?
Court-packing is an effort to manipulate the Court’s membership for partisan gain. In this instance, Democrats want to expand the size of the court. Since they control the Senate and presidency, it’s conceivable, if passed by Congress, that Democrats could add enough liberal judges to outweigh the current conservative majority.
The harm is that it might diminish the Court.
Biden Starts Staffing Commission on Supreme Court Reform
On Wednesday, the Biden administration said it’s moving forward with creating a commission to study reforms to the Supreme Court. The commission is barely bipartisan, and no mandate was assigned for the commission to consider.
The commission will serve under the White House Counsel’s office. Biden’s campaign lawyer Bob Bauer is co-chairing the commission. The following individuals were also selected to sit on the commission:
- Yale Law School professor and Obama former deputy assistant attorney general Cristina Rodriguez: The professor’s views on court-packing are not clear.
- Former president of the American Constitution Society Caroline Fredrickson: She is an outspoken proponent of packing the court.
- Harvard Law School professor and former Bush assistant attorney general Jack Goldsmith: The professor was an outspoken advocate for Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment in 2018.
Over his nearly 50 years of elected public service, Biden rejected court-packing. In October, then-candidate Biden said the court shouldn’t become a political football that changes whenever someone wins an election.
So, what changed?
What’s the Purpose of the Commission?
If one takes Biden at his previous word, the commission may serve a few purposes:
- Intimidate the Supreme Court into not overturning the Democrat’s progressive agenda by holding the threat of court-packing over them.
- Hold progressives at bay who are applying political pressure to the new administration.
- Commissions are notorious for killing ideas. Perhaps it’s Biden’s way of adding scholarship to the debate in hopes their research demonstrates too much harm to the country by taking such extreme action.
Of course, one could also not take Biden at his word and assume he’ll flip the switch. That’s always a distinct possibility.
The very idea and existence of a commission to study Supreme Court reform are divisive. The likelihood of any reform passing Congress is almost zero. Evenly divided, the US Senate currently consists of 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tiebreaker. It’s unlikely to ever come to a vote, however. Republicans are unanimous against the idea. In fact, several GOP Senators are considering a Constitutional amendment to block any Democratic attempts to pack the court. Plus, Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) are also opposed to court-packing.
If Democrats don’t have the votes, then the commission’s exercise is moot.
Unfortunately, it’s Washington, DC, and despite the odds, one should never take a challenge to the Supreme Court lightly.
Don Purdum, Independent Political Analyst
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