‘Playing With Fire’: Dems’ Renewed Court Packing Calls Are Shortsighted ‘Political Manipulation,’ Legal Experts Say
- Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey reintroduced a bill to add four seats to the Supreme Court on Tuesday with the support of Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.
- Legal experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation that renewed calls for court packing are an attempt to manipulate the Supreme Court to reach a political goal.
- Chief Executive Officer of First Liberty Institute Kelly Shackelford told the DCNF the efforts are “incredibly shortsighted,” pointing to how court packing has eroded judicial independence in Venezuela and Argentina and remains widely unpopular in the U.S.
Democrats’ latest attempt to pack the Supreme Court is an effort to manipulate the judiciary to achieve a political result and puts judicial independence at risk, legal experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey reintroduced his bill Tuesday to add four seats to the Supreme Court, days after Planned Parenthood announced for the first time that it supports court packing, along with other judicial reforms like term limits and adding judges to the federal courts. Renewed calls for court packing coincide with Democrats escalating their efforts to impose a code of ethics on the justices after a number of reports, which multiple legal experts noted were incomplete, alleged Justice Clarence Thomas violated ethics rules.
Chief Executive Officer of First Liberty Institute Kelly Shackelford, who has argued cases before the Supreme Court, told the DCNF the efforts are “incredibly shortsighted.”
“You pack the court once, your country is over,” he said, pointing to the examples of Venezuela and Argentina. Since Venezuela’s high court was packed in 2004, it has never sided against the government, he noted.
“People think they have constitutional rights, but at that point you don’t,” he said. “You only have whatever rights the majority power wants you to have.”
“Keeping the courts free of political manipulation is on the list of reasons America declared independence in the first place,” Thomas Jipping, senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, told the DCNF. “Adding unnecessary seats to any court is a strategy for deliberately manipulating its decisions.”
“For that reason, Court-packing has been rejected twice in American history and is no more legitimate today,” he continued.
During his press conference announcing the bill, which was joined by Democratic Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith, Democratic Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson, Democratic Missouri Rep. Cori Bush and Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff, Markey called for Justice Clarence Thomas to resign and claimed Justices Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett have “no right” to be serving on the Supreme Court. He also cited the Dobbs v. Women’s Health Organization decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade.
Now, nearly a year after the decision, pro-abortion groups are joining Democrats’ effort to change the court.
“Pregnant people and their families feel the painful, real world consequences of the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade that took away a bedrock constitutional right,” Markey said. Both Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America backed the bill.
“It’s telling that Planned Parenthood has joined the calls from other left-wing dark-money groups and Democrat politicians trying to pack the Court,” said JCN President Carrie Severino. “They want to tear down any institution that won’t bend to their political demands.”
Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz reintroduced a proposed constitutional amendment to freeze the amount of justices serving on the Supreme Court at nine in March with 11 other Republican co-sponsors.
Court packing remains unpopular even among Democrats, as it was when President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to do it in 1937, Shackelford said. Still, it is “very dangerous.”
“A lot of people take for granted the rule of law,” he said. “Once you lose that, it’s all about power.”
“They’re playing with fire here,” he continued.
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