Why "court-packing" for perceived political gain is a bad idea

Increasing the number of U.S. Supreme Court Justices does not happen very often. The number of Justices on the Supreme Court changed six times before settling at the present total of nine in 1869.

Since the formation of the Supreme Court in 1790, there have been only 17 Chief Justices and 103 Associate Justices, with Justices serving an average of 16 years.

Currently, Democrat President Joe Biden, with  Democrat majorities in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, has named a special committee to study the pros and cons of expanding the number of Supreme Court Justices.

And elected Democrats in the U.S. Senate have already proposed expanding the number of Supreme Court Justices by four from the current nine judges to 13.

The selection and confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice is always a hotly-contested process. Since the Supreme Court Justices have life-long appointments, vacancies on our country’s highest court do not occur very often.

As it turned out, former President Donald Trump was president when three vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court occurred and needed to be filled.

The President nominates Justices to fill the vacancies on the Supreme Court and then they must go through a Senate confirmation process. The Senate approves new Supreme Court Justices by way of a simple majority. If the opposing party is in the majority in the Senate, the President’s nominations are not always approved by the Senate.

In this way, both the Executive and Legislative branches of the federal government have a voice in the composition of the Supreme Court and the sitting President does not always get his way.

While Presidents nominate Justices that they believe will share common beliefs with them on important issues of the day, the Supreme Court Justices, once selected, operate independent of both the Executive and Legislative branches of government.

We don’t have to look very far in the rear view mirror of history for a story or two demonstrating the independence of the  Supreme Court.

Former President Trump, for example, while still in office, wanted the Supreme Court - with its perceived conservative 6-3 majority, to hear cases about federal election fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Did the Supreme Court do what President Trump wanted? No. Justices have a duty to exercise their own independent judgments.

It is no secret that current President Biden and his advisers believe that “packing the court’’ - as it is called - now with four more perceived “liberal Democrat’’ leaning Justices will ensure that more laws will get changed to reflect the liberal viewpoints on issues.

But increasing Supreme Court Justices is a bad idea, if the only real goal is to give one political party more power and influence over the other.

If the Democrats “pack the court’’ as they say they will, then what’s to stop the Republicans from “packing the court’’ themselves in the future by adding even more Justices when they retake the White House and retake majority standing in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate?

The legitimacy of the Supreme Court must not be diminished and this game of trying to intimidate the Supreme Court by saying “it is broken and must be fixed’’ must stop.

If our great country is to remain great, we can’t have the Supreme Court bowing to political pressure from either political party.

Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. Freedom of assembly. The right to bear arms. These are the important constitutional rights that hang in the balance.

Our country has been served well for 152 years with the current nine-member Supreme Court makeup.

The President and Congress should turn their focus away from “packing the court’’ and instead focus on working across the aisle with Republicans for compromised solutions to the nation’s issues. That’s how our government is supposed to work.  

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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