Demand Justice, an organization founded by former members of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and associated with a secretive “social welfare organization” financed by billionaire activist George Soros, is pushing a scheme to pack the Supreme Court with liberal justices by adding new seats to the nation’s highest court.
This comes after Demand Justice has failed in its repeated attempts to bring about the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
A Demand Justice petition circulated over the weekend reads:
The number of justices is not established in the Constitution — in fact, we’ve changed the number of justices seven times throughout our history.
We need every Democrat to join us. Sign the petition and tell Democrats to support adding seats to the Supreme Court today.
The missive, also promoted in Demand Justice mass emails, claims “Republicans stole a seat when they put Neil Gorsuch on the bench, so Democrats need to be committed to fighting back by adding seats to the Supreme Court.”
The petition continues, “You know what’s at stake: the right to a safe and legal abortion, the right to seek asylum, the right to a workplace free of discrimination for LGBTQ+ people, and so much more.”
The activism drive seeks to galvanize support for the concept of adding seats to the Supreme Court but does not explain the process of actually getting it done.
Immediately after the confirmation of Kavanaugh last year, Breitbart News reported that already some Democrats and progressive activists began shifting tactics, pushing the scheme to “pack” or “balance” the Supreme Court by adding two new seats to be filled by liberal judges.
The Supreme Court expansion plot would be enacted if Democrats retake Congress and the presidency in 2020, according to the plan.
Political scientist David Faris advocated in a book published last year for Democrats to pack the Supreme Court with as many liberal judges as they can. Farris branded the plan the “neutron option for the Supreme Court.”
Vice’s West Coast editor Harry Cheadle summarized Faris’s arguments thusly:
[It] would involve first proposing a constitutional amendment to end lifetime tenure on the court and pushing a proposal to let each president pick two justices per term, a compromise that Faris hopes would “end the court wars.” He suspects Republicans wouldn’t go for that, however, so he’d advise the next Democratic president to just “pack” the court as FDR tried to do in 1937 before Congress rose up against him and prevented it. That would involve passing a bill to expand the size of the court and allowing the president to appoint however many justices would be needed to create a new liberal majority, with the friendly Senate signing off on any appointee. (This would be legal, Faris points out, because there’s nothing in the Constitution stipulating the size of the court, which has in fact fluctuated in the past.)
Writing at NBC.com after Kavanagh’s nomination, political science professor Scott Lemieux opined that “Democrats are now much more likely to mobilize against an even more conservative court.”
But how might Democratic leaders respond?
A more likely scenario — especially if a Trumpified Supreme Court not only effectively overrules Roe v. Wade but then keeps striking down legislation passed by the next unified Democratic government — is expanding the size of the Supreme Court. The constitution does not fix the size of any federal appellate court, and the number of justices can be changed with simple majorities of both houses of Congress. Doing so isn’t hypothetical: After the Civil War, congressional Republicans manipulated the size of the court to ensure that it wouldn’t interfere with Reconstruction.
In July 2018, Yale Law School professors Ian Ayres and John Fabian Witt laid out the case in the Washington Post for expanding the Supreme Court, referring to the tactic as “court balancing.”
Author: Aaron Klein