The federal government is comprised of three separate branches in order to grant powers to each branch that hold the other branches accountable. This was expressly done in order to prevent the rise of a monarchy, or even a ruling party that stifles the will of their opposing counsel. Packing the Supreme Court is a very dangerous move that works to nullify these checks and balances.
What is “Packing the Supreme Court?”
The Supreme Court was established by Article III of the US Constitution. We have reported on the importance of maintaining constitutionality of the court before, and “packing” it would be to move further away than we already are.
Packing the Supreme Court means that politicians in Congress would vote to expand the amount of seats that comprise the supreme court. So for example, let’s assume that Trumps nomination is purely partisan conservative. This would make the current nine justice court split between 6 “conservatives” and 3 “liberals.”
Should the Democrat party manage to take control of Congress and the Executive, which is bound to happen during the life-long appointments of current justices, they could then choose to “pack” the court. They would vote to add additional justices to the court, so instead of having 9 the court could have for example 15 justices. The newly appointed 6 additional judges would then have to be appointed and confirmed by the Democrat controlled government, changing the balance of the court to 6 conservatives and 8 liberal justices. This practice would completely politicize the court and eliminate the constitutional oversight that it was intended for.
What would stop republicans from then expanding the court to say, 21 justices when they take back power?
Late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was against this idea
While every notable Democrat wants to tout the alleged “last fervent wish” of the late Justice, she was clear that she was against what many democrats have suggested in regards to packing the court.
“Nine seems to be a good number. It’s been that way for a long time,” she said in an interview with NPR, adding, “I think it was a bad idea when President Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the court.”
“If anything would make the court look partisan,” she said, “it would be that — one side saying, ‘When we’re in power, we’re going to enlarge the number of judges, so we would have more people who would vote the way we want them to.’ “
That impairs the idea of an independent judiciary, she said.
Checks and Balances have already suffered greatly
Remember all of the rage about “nuclear options?” They are dubbed as such because of the long lasting impacts they have on the rules and regulations of government procedure.
In 2013, Harry Reid moved to change the rules on filibusters, which were being used to block nominations that Republicans did not agree with from the Obama Administration. This was done with the admitted knowledge that it would result in Republicans, when taking back power, would use the authority to grant themselves more power.
A filibuster is a tool used by a minority party to delay or prevent votes from taking place that they otherwise do not have the votes to block. It provides a check and balance to those who can be over ruled by a majority vote.
And they did. In 2017 Republicans again used a “nuclear option” to abolish the required super majority needed to confirm appointments. A super majority is another form of checks and balance that requires a vote to be obtained by receiving two-thirds approval (60 votes) rather than a direct split 51 votes being a majority. By requiring 60 votes, it is presumed that there would have to be by default at least some bipartisan support.
So with these actions, partisan politics has already worked to eliminate safe guards guaranteed by our Republic in order to play childish games of power and domination. These rule changes have already set dangerous standards, and unfortunately would act to make packing the supreme court and even easier, deadlier feat to accomplish.