CV NEWS FEED // The White House formed a new commission of 36 members, presented as a “bipartisan” group entrusted with studying the pros and cons of several possible reforms to the Supreme Court.
The most controversial proposal likely to be considered is a possible change to the “size” of the Supreme Court, which has consistently had nine justices since 1869.
Many Republicans denounced the move, accusing Democrats of opportunism, and of trying to use the Democrat-controlled White House to rig future Supreme Court decisions in favor of progressive outcomes.
It is not only Republicans, however, who oppose adding justices to the Supreme Court. Democrats, not least among them Joe Biden himself, have spoken adamantly against it themselves, especially during periods when Republicans held the White House.
As recently as last year, critics argue, enough liberal leaders condemned court packing that it would appear quite cynical for Democrats, as a party, to abruptly reverse course now, so soon after gaining some power over the question in the 2020 elections.
“I have heard that there are some people on the Democratic side who would like to increase the number of judges,” said the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in an interview last year.
“If anything would make the court look partisan, it would be that,” Ginsburg said. “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.’”
Liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, too, has spoken in opposition to court packing, arguing it would erode public trust in the Supreme Court. “If the public sees judges as politicians in robes, its confidence in the courts and in the rule of law can only diminish, diminishing the court’s power, including its power to act as a check on other branches,” Breyer said.
On Twitter, Sen. Rick Scott, R-FL, laid out some of the past remarks of Biden himself on the subject of court packing:
The Washington Examiner tweeted a video clip of Biden decrying court packing in 1983. “It was a terrible, terrible mistake to make,” he said in reference to a past attempt at court packing, “and it put in question there for an entire decade the independence of THE most significant body… in this country.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, shared the clip, commenting “True then. True Now.”
Video footage of Biden’s 2005 characterization of court-packing as a form of “power-grab” was also shared widely Friday.
In the video, Biden calls attention to President Franklin Roosevelt’s plan to pack the court in 1937. Roosevelt was “corrupted by power, in my view,” Biden said, and it took an act of “courage” for fellow Democrats to stop him.
Watch Joe Biden’s 2005 remarks below.