We recently discussed the controversial commission created by President Joe Biden to discuss calls to pack the Supreme Court as well as a number of truly looney ideas for circumventing or reducing the authority of the Court’s conservative majority. Some members however decided not to wait even for a commission that is itself packed with liberal members. House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler, D-NY, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass, and others will be announcing their plan to immediately add four new justices to the Court. The number is calculated purely to give liberals a 7-6 majority on the Court. It is about a subtle as a B-52 run.
Many of us have discussed the expansion of the Supreme Court through the years. Over 20 years ago, I recommended the expansion of the Court to 17 or 19 members. However, that recommendation would occur over many years and would not give advocates the short-term majority that they are seeking. That is the difference between reforming and packing the Court.
The bill today strips away any pretense of principle. It is pure unadulterated court packing. It is the very proposal denounced by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before she died. Recently, Justice Stephen Breyer wanted against the move. One would think he would be immune from the mob as one of the most consistently liberal justices in our history. However, this week, Breyer warned against any move to expand the Supreme Court. He also rejected the characterization of the current Court as “conservative” or ideologically rigid. Breyer was swiftly denounced by figures like cable news host Mehdi Hasan who called him “naive” and called for his retirement. Demand Justice, a liberal group calling for court packing, had a billboard truck in Washington the next day in the streets of Washington warning “Breyer, retire. Don’t risk your legacy.” (Demand Justice once employed White House press secretary Jen Psaki as a communications consultant, and Psaki was on the advisory board of one of its voting projects.)
With the opposition of justices like Ginsburg and Breyer (and presumably the majority if not the unanimous Court), this is nothing short of a hostile takeover. It would reduce the Court to a glorified FCC with life tenure.
The chances of succeeding in this ignoble goal are low. However, the real question is how many Democratic senators and House members will step forward today to denounce such raw court packing. These politicians often decry what they view as attacks on the rule of law. Well, this is not just an attack but a virtual declaration of war on the rule of law. If Democrats just add members to give them a controlling majority, the Supreme Court will have little authority or integrity. It will become the manufactured majority of a party with a razor thin control of Congress of two seats in the House and a 50-50 split in the Senate.
I am particularly disappointed to see Nadler in this group. I never imagined that I would see the day that the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee would step forward to call for raw court packing. It is a sign of our current political environment where rage overwhelms reason.