Court-packing is one of the biggest issues of this election cycle in the presidential race (and U.S. Senate elections). Undoubtedly, it would be an even bigger issue if not for Covid-19 and the overall craziness infecting so much of 2020.
In Thursday’s town hall, presidential candidate Joe Biden continued to play games with the court-packing question. “I’m not a fan…it depends on how this turns out,” declared Biden. The former vice president is now essentially saying the court-packing question depends on how the Amy Coney Barrett nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court goes. That position is not too dissimilar from past comments suggesting he must be elected first before his position is known. At any rate, he’s suggesting if Democrats or many on the left don’t get their way on justices, they might just go ahead and add some. Many are now even calling this “depoliticizing the court,” an absurd notion since the whole reason any attempt to pack the court would be for a political power grab. Those that have studied American history know that Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried this in the 1930s and was rebuked by his own Democrat Party.
The manipulation of language in the media and culture might be the most troublesome aspect of this current debate. You have some currently arguing that court-packing is what Republicans are now doing. Read these words below by Joy Reid from MSNBC:
This “court packing” narrative seems to me to be a textbook example of the media turning a Republican vested interest into a national imperative. Republicans have spent decades literally “packing the court” with young right wing judges. Why should Joe Biden pledge to maintain it?
However, filling vacancies of lifetime appointments through the advice and consent process who have either retired or died is not “court-packing.” In this hyper-partisan era, this is simply called you have a president and senate majority of the same party in power. “Elections have consequences,” as former president Barack Obama once reminded us.
One can certainly argue that Senate Republicans are being hypocritical on judicial nominations or that conservative judges are bad for the nation. However, we shouldn’t change the language or the meaning of words to make something dangerous and unpopular supposedly sound more tolerable.
After all, court-packing is what banana republics do. When a new regime comes into power they so often just change the rules and rule of law to fit their agenda — a common occurrence in banana republics. Obviously, this would be true of any political parties if they tried to pack the courts. Put simply, an attempt to pack the courts to erode checks and balances would be disastrous for the nation and the rule of law. It’s a direct assault on our founding principles. Instead, what this nation desperately needs is a clearer understanding of the role and purpose of our three branches of government, not merely trying to manipulate their design for the sake of power.