Amid the ongoing battle over Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation, liberals have sought to redefine “court-packing,” a term for expanding the number of justices on the bench for partisan purposes.
The threat: Congressional Democrats have threatened to pack the court once their party has the power if Barrett is confirmed to replace late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ahead of the Nov. 3 election as expected.
- They fear Barrett, as part of a 6-3 conservative majority on the court, will undo cherished judicial achievements on abortion, same-sex marriage, climate change and health care.
- But court-packing has long been seen as a radical move and is unpopular with voters.
So, liberals have come up with at least five alternative definitions of court-packing — two for Republicans and three for themselves — that they hope will make it seem more justified:
- Court-packing is when Senate Republicans strategically confirm justices: “This idea that Democrats are packing the Court — [Republicans] have already done it, “Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said on MSNBC on Monday, recounting Republicans’ obstruction of Obama judicial nominees, including Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, followed by a wave of confirmations under President Donald Trump.
- Court-packing is placing white male justices on the court: “[Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican] held up all of Obama’s appointments until Trump got in, then engineered openings on the Supreme Court for hyper-conservatives, while appointing over 100 YOUNG conservative WHITE MEN to our lower courts,” a liberal Twitter user said on Saturday, speaking for many others.
- Court-packing is revenge: “Can we at least recognize that ‘Court Packing’ at all levels of the judiciary has been the Republican playbook for decades? Asking for Merrick Garland,” former CBS News anchor Dan Rather tweeted on Saturday.
- Court-packing is “depoliticizing the Supreme Court”: “It’s not just about expansion, it’s about depoliticizing the Supreme Court,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, told Politico last March, using language that has since been adopted by The Associated Press.
- Court-packing is undoing court-packing: “Republicans / conservatives have so deeply internalized the idea that they have some God-given right to pack the courts with their ideological partisans, they have convinced themselves, and frankly the media, that undoing their obsessive court packing is what’s ‘radical,'” MSNBC host Joy Reid said in a tweet on Saturday.