Opinion Columnists Riley Mulcahy and Emmanuel Simon debate whether our country should be expanding the Supreme Court. Mulcahy argues for expanding the Court, Simon argues against it.
Pro -Why We Must Pack the Courts
Democrats should use their power to take bold, progressive action
By: Riley Mulcahy
Democrats won in 2020. Sometimes it is hard to believe that Republicans are the minority party, but they are. The realization of this fact will make it easier for Democrats to create an
environment in Washington that people would like to be a part of, and packing the Supreme Court is one action to take that makes sense. The concept may seem problematic to most people, that the court will be over-politicized, too liberal, and that it will take away from the sanctity of the court. However, Republicans have been throwing away tradition amongst the courts for decades, and Democrats must beat them at their own game if they have a chance in passing meaningful legislation.
The term “packing the courts” is defined as any manipulation of the Supreme Court’s makeup. There have been reports that Democrats are looking to pass legislation that would add four more Justices to the court, and it is safe to say that they will have at least slight liberal leanings because the Democrats are in control of both the Senate and the House. In an era where there have been so many reckonings, social injustices, racial tensions, COVID-19, etc., it is time to reimagine institutions that Republicans are threatening.
Republicans have taken every opportunity to pack the courts. In 2016, when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court, Republicans lost their minds. They refused even to hold a hearing and waited for the election to be over to see if Trump would win and let him decide the fate of the Supreme Court. When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died last year, Republicans shifted their tone and rushed a Supreme Court nomination of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, fearing that the White House might have been up for grabs.
When Obama left office, hundreds of courts lacked judges, which meant Republicans could fill the lower courts with conservatives, leading to state abortion bans and anti-LGBTQI+ legislation holding up in the courts. The notion that a single party can set the tone for the next 50 years is mind-boggling; however, adding more members to the Supreme Court is more inclusive. Nine people should not have the power to be the will of the American people; there should be more diversity of beliefs and backgrounds in America’s highest court, which would lend itself to America’s variety as a whole.
Biden will probably not support a radical change to the court’s makeup; however, this is the time for progressives to take him to the task. Amidst a global pandemic, Biden is doing a fantastic job trying to return America to some type of normalcy; however, this is the time for bold and powerful change. Republicans do not have the power to control the house or the senate. Democrats must choose wisely how they will proceed because if they lose control of the House and the Senate, packing the courts, along with so many other bills, including those that help America become more inclusive, will go out of the window.
Even though there is a lot of opposition, Democrats must bring the issue to the table. There has been too much inaction in a time in which action is most needed, and the majority of Americans support progressive efforts. Republicans are much better at framing issues and using fear tactics to create paranoia, using words such as “biased” or “socialism.” In reality, packing the courts will create a more just society, one that embodies not only the will of rich white people but appreciates all Americans, recognizing all cultures, religions, creeds, and races.
For more information on Court-Packing, please visit:
Con - Court Packing: A Recipe for Division
By: Emmanuel Simon
Packing the Supreme Court is detrimental to the unity of all Americans, regardless of race, gender, or even political stance. Current “court packing” advocates are fundamentally at odds with an America that seeks healing and unity. This will be evident by the fact that many Americans, both Democrat and Republican, share my view.
The members of the Supreme Court exist as non-partisan members who wish to preserve and protect our Constitution. The Supreme Court’s website states, “As the final arbiter of the law, the Court is charged with ensuring the American people the promise of equal justice under law and, thereby, also functions as guardian and interpreter of the Constitution.” Advocates of court packing deny that the Supreme Court acts as a non-partisan. According to their view, members of the Supreme Court are biased, and therefore, we need to add more members of the Supreme Court in order to do away with the Court’s bias. But not only are these accusations against the court unfactual, these accusations are also self-refuting.
Advocates for court packing seek to bring more members onto the Supreme Court. Yet given the premise that members of the Supreme Court are biased, it follows that advocates of court packing actually seek to bring biased members onto the Supreme Court in order to get rid of bias. This is done in order to bring more politicians who share the same one-sided political view onto the Supreme Court. In other words, advocates who want to bring more members onto the Supreme Court actually seek political power and domination over those who disagree with them. Hence, Court Packing leads to a divided America.
Furthermore, Court Packing leads to a logical regress. Suppose that since Biden is president, he decides to pack the Supreme Court by adding more Democrats. A future Republican president could also pack the court to get more members who think like him or her. Both future Democrat and Republican presidents would find themselves packing the Court in order to have an America that focuses upon a single narrative. Again, we see that Court Packing changes the Supreme Court into a tool used for political power that divides the American people rather than an institution that helps unite.
Now, some advocates of court packing claim that Women’s rights are at stake if we do not pack the court. But that’s just flat-out false. Let’s look at what accomplished woman and Supreme Court Justice, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, co-founder of the Women’s Rights Project, had to say about Packing the Court: “Nine seems to be a good number. It's been that way for a long time….I think it was a bad idea when President Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the court.” She then adds, “If anything would make the court look partisan, it would be that — one side saying, ‘When we're in power, we're going to enlarge the number of judges, so we would have more people who would vote the way we want them to.’” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had enough common sense to see that court packing does not lead to an America that helps women. Rather, it divides our America.
We can also see that advocates of Court Packing are actually trying to weaken the voices of accomplished women in our America. Notice how far-left Democrats weren’t concerned about court packing until Justice Amy Coney Barrett came on the scene. It was fitting that an accomplished woman like Justice Barrett fills the place of an accomplished woman like Justice Ginsburg. These Far-left Court Packing advocates are therefore both hypocritical extremists; hypocritical because they say they stand for women’s equality, yet their actions show otherwise. They are extremists because they are so far left that they make other left-leaning figures like Senator Manchin or President Biden look like conservatives.
It’s ironic to hear advocates of court packing claim that their position is meant to help women when accomplished and noteworthy women like Barrett and Ginsburg disagree with them. All Americans—Republicans and Democrats, men and women—can see past the empty rhetoric offered by Court Packing advocates. The American people seek healing, not division. For that reason, men and women of our American are smart enough to know that Court Packing is illogical, divisive, and anti-women.
On the Function of the Supreme Court: https://www.supremecourt.gov/about/about.aspx#:~:text=As%20the%20final%20arbiter%20of,and%20interpreter%20of%20the%20Constitution.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s views regarding Court Packing:
Melanie Moyer '22,