After spending months telling voters that he would unite the country, President Biden announced on Friday that he was creating a commission to investigate potentially "packing" the Supreme Court, an issue that has done nothing but divide voters.
"Packing the court" is when one party adds justices to the bench who align with them ideologically, in hopes that a court that leans to their side of the aisle will pass more of their legislation. Since 1869, the Supreme Court has had 9 justices, all of whom are appointed to serve the people, not the party who appointed them, via impartial and just interpretation of the law.
The last time a President tried to pack the Supreme Court was in 1937. Franklin D. Roosevelt, in hopes of passing his New Deal legislation, set out to expand the court, with some iterations of the plan including 15 judges. The move came after the existing Supreme Court ruled against much of the New Deal legislation Roosevelt had proposed. He thus hoped to use the court not as an impartial arbiter of law, but as a wing of his party. Congress ended up voting against the plan, and the Supreme Court remained the same.
Flash forward to 2020; as President Trump appointed his third Supreme Court justice, Democrats suggested that if Biden were to win the election, they may pack the court as a way to tilt the Judicial branch back in their favour. As reported by CNN in October, just one month before people went to the polls, when asked about court packing, Joe Biden said he would answer "when the election is over". Now, safely elected President, Biden has hinted that court packing is on the table.
The move to create a commission to explore the issue of court packing has sparked criticism from many Republicans, but perhaps none more so than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. According to The Daily Wire, he called it “a direct assault on our nation’s independent judiciary and yet another sign of the Far Left’s influence over the Biden Administration.”
McConnell decried the fact that calls to manipulate the Supreme Court into pushing a particular party's policies are not only coming from far left activists, but from elected Democrats. As The Daily Wire reports, McConnell pointed out, that "A sitting Senator has personally threatened certain justices should they rule against liberal interests" and that "multiple Senate Democrats signed a threatening brief suggesting the Court needed to either deliver liberal rulings or face being 'restructured'."
Just like Roosevelt tried to do in the 1930's, McConnell stated that Democrats today are "attacking norms and institutions, rather than working within them". He noted, for example, that "When Democrats lose a floor vote, it’s time to change Senate rules. When they lose a presidential election, it’s time to abolish the Electoral College. And when activists’ cases fall flat against the rule of law, it’s time to ignore Justices Ginsburg and Breyer and pack the Supreme Court."
The fact that President Biden, who campaigned on a moderate platform, is considering an action as radical as packing the court is troubling, and shows just how much control the far-left has over the Democratic Party.