Updated: Nov 12, 2020
Assistant Opinions Editor
In a fresh debate that took place between Vice President Mike Pence and VP candidate Kamala Harris, a question was asked to Senator Harris. This same question was asked to Presidential candidate Joe Biden in his first debate with incumbent Donald Trump. The question was: “Are you going to pack the Supreme Court?” Neither candidate had an answer.
“Packing the court” is a term usually used to describe a situation in which the Supreme Court has extra Supreme Court Justices added to further the political goals of a party or politician. The most notorious example of this can be seen with former President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930’s. In order to advance his New Deal policies, Roosevelt attempted to add up to six Justices. Roosevelt very nearly succeeded in getting his way, which set the precedent for the issue being discussed today.
With the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the idea of court packing has made a comeback. Democrats are fearful of President Trump’s ability to pick a new member of the august judicial body. Thus, if Joe Biden takes the Presidency, it is possible that to bring “balance” to the Court, he could appoint another member through Congress passing laws. This is completely within the bounds of law as well. Nowhere in the Constitution is there mention of a defined amount of Supreme Court Justices. However, the Biden campaign’s illicit approval of the measure should cause concern in all Americans.
Biden has repeatedly avoided the direct question on whether he would pack the court or not. On October 8, when asked that very question, he stated, “You’ll know my opinion on court packing when the election is over!” Likewise, during his debate with Trump he reverted to talking about how the “American people should decide”. The writing is on the wall.
It is becoming even clearer to many Americans that this country is reaching a crisis point. The fact that many on one side of the aisle want to pack the court is an indication of that. Court packing can only lead to discredit the status of the Supreme Court. If Biden carries through with his plans, what will stop the next Republican president from doing his own packaging? In fact, what would stop Democrats from doing it every time they win the Presidency? By treating the Court as a political tool at the whim of rapacious politicians, the Court will become filled not with the best and brightest our nation’s lawyers have to offer, but the stooges and thugs of Republican and Democratic politicians. Who just so happen to be in the pocket of special interest groups and wealthy donors. The Supreme Court is not supposed to be at the mercy of the other branches, nor in fact to the American people. Their job is to be a neutral arbiter and interpreter of the law.
Packing the court is playing with fire. Some Democrats and intellectuals fervently favor the idea. They claim that it is a last stop measure against a dictator who currently resides at the White House. Someone needs to dictate to the Democrats some patience. As Roosevelt, Democrats, and Republicans have learned, eventually they’ll get the reigns of power again. Advocating for radical change that could have disastrous consequences down the road is a hotheaded and foolhardy idea. For once the precedent of court packing starts, it would be hard to justify its end. To protect the honor and integrity of our most esteemed institution of law, Americans must resoundly reject the idea of court packing, no matter which color it comes from.