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Another Day, Another Liberal Power-Grab Attempt

By Sen. John Thune

April 16, 2021

In what is fast becoming a theme of his presidency, President Biden caved to the demands of the far left and officially established his court-packing commission. Yes, court-packing. An idea that had been consigned to the ash heap of history almost a century ago has been given new life by the far left, who are upset that a duly elected Republican president was able to get his justices confirmed to the Supreme Court.

The terrible crisis we’re facing is that a Republican president was able to fill three vacancies on the Supreme Court. I confess I had missed the part in the Constitution that said the Supreme Court is only legitimate if a majority of its members were nominated by a Democrat president – or at least reliably deliver liberals’ preferred outcomes. But Liberals didn’t. Now they’re eager to “restore balance” to the Supreme Court by expanding the number of Supreme Court justices and ensuring that a Democrat president fills the new spots.

President Biden – the same man who once called President Roosevelt’s failed court-packing proposal a “bonehead idea” and a “terrible, terrible mistake to make” – is apparently falling in with the far left’s demands. His commission – composed largely of left-leaning scholars, Democrat operatives, and a few conservatives as bipartisan window-dressing – will consider court-packing and other structural “reforms,” like term limits for Supreme Court justices.

Republicans – and a lot of independent and Democrat voters as well – will see this for exactly what it is: an attempt by Democrats to undermine an essential institution to ensure that Democrats get the Supreme Court rulings they want. Democrats can dress up their openness to court-packing proposals in lofty language and faux expressions of concern for the institution, but no one is fooled. This is about power, pure and simple. Democrats want power. They want to be able to impose the policies they want, when they want them. Justice Breyer, a reliable liberal vote on the Supreme Court, recognizes the extraordinary damage court-packing would do to the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, recently stating that “[i]t is wrong to think of the Court as another political institution. And it is doubly wrong to think of its members as junior-league politicians.  Structural alteration motivated by the perception of political influence can only feed that perception, further eroding that trust.”

Let’s suppose Democrats actually succeed in expanding the Supreme Court and adding more Democrat nominees. What do they think is going to happen next time there’s a Republican president and a Republican Congress? I can tell you. Republicans would make their own move to “restore balance” and add some more Republican Supreme Court nominees. Then I imagine when Democrats retook power they’d do the same thing. In a decade or so, the Supreme Court could be expanded to laughable proportions.

This may seem like all talk and no action from a few radical fringe Democrats, but recently, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and senior Senate Democrats stood on the steps of the Supreme Court to announce they had introduced legislation to expand the court from nine to 13. History will not look kindly on those who seek to intimidate the Supreme Court by threatening to pack it with partisans, in much the same way history does not look kindly on President Roosevelt’s effort to do the same thing back in 1937.

I understand Democrats’ passion for their political beliefs, as I’m also pretty passionate about advancing my political principles, but I believe we should be advancing our principles the democratic way, by persuading people to vote for us – not by undermining our democratic institutions to give our party an advantage.

I am deeply disappointed that President Biden found himself unable to stand up to pressure from the radical left. I hope that at least some Democrats will find the courage to oppose these dangerous attempts to undermine our system of government. The Biden court-packing commission is a solution in search of a problem – and an attempt at a raw power grab by Democrats. I will work to ensure it fades into the obscurity it deserves.