Packing the Courts is Bad for America

Gabby Laurente, Managing Editor

With the induction of Amy Coney Barrett as a Supreme Court Justice, people across the nation are anxious to see if the Democrats are going to go through with their rumored court-packing plan, a plan that even the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg opposed. 

“I think it was a bad idea when President Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the court,” said Ginsburg to NPR’s Nina Totenberg. “If anything [it] would make the court look partisan.”

In the late 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to pursue a court-packing plan in order to pass his New Deal legislation, a program that the majority of justices and even the public did not agree with. 

The Constitution writes that for as long as a president is in power, when the opportunity arises they have the power to nominate someone to fill the Supreme Court. This seat can only be filled after consent is given from the Senate. When Mitch McConnell lifted the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees, the Senate was able to vote Amy Coney Barrett into the supreme court. 

Because McConnell refused to lift the filibuster in 2016 when Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the vacant seat left by Justice Antonin Scalia, it is clear that now the GOP is going about doing whatever they can get away with.

By packing the Supreme Court, the Democratic Party would be doing the exact same. 

The court-packing scheme does not consider the long-term outcome, but is rather just following the GOP’s example of seizing whatever opportunity the moment has to offer. Court-packing isn’t a permanent solution, as the GOP could easily repeat the same process once they hold power in the executive branch. 

This never ending process will ultimately only lead to a court of unmanageable size and increased partisanship. 

For Biden to enlarge the Court as well as be the one to unilaterally appoint the new justices would defeat the purpose of checks and balances. This directly feeds into the partisanship of the court, and further motivates the GOP to follow through with the same plan and continue the cycle.  

According to a survey taken in July, only 19% of Republicans and 30% of Democrats are in favor of expanding the court. This survey was taken before the death of Justice Ginsburg, but she was hospitalized before the survey was taken. 

The amount of support is about 20% lower than that of Roosevelt’s plan in 1937, which was put in place in order to enact a program that much of the public was not even in support of.

The current motivation behind both parties is just to do whatever is the most beneficial to either party at the given moment. There is a complete and utter disregard for what is better for the long term. 

We saw examples of this mindset when McConnell voided Garland’s nomination, and we are now seeing it four years later as the Democratic Party threatens to pack the Court if Biden wins.