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Thune: Biden Court-Packing Commission Lays the Foundation for Democrat Power-Grab

ā€œDemocrats want power. They want to be able to impose the policies they want, when they want them.ā€

April 13, 2021

Washington — 

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed his disappointment in President Biden for establishing a court-packing commission to examine the far-left’s proposal to pack the Supreme Court with Democratic judges. Thune expressed that court-packing would undermine a fundamental part of our system of government and discussed that it is solely a power-grab attempt by Democrats.

Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):

“Mr. President, on Friday, 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 – wait for it – are upset that a duly elected Republican president was able to get his justices confirmed to the Supreme Court.

“Yes, Mr. President.

“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.

“And 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.

“And 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.

“It’s funny how Democrats weren’t too concerned about term limits when revered liberal justices were serving for decades. 

“But faced with the terrible prospect that a Justice Barrett or a Justice Gorsuch might have a similarly long career, the left is suddenly eager to limit Supreme Court terms.

“Mr. President, there are so many things wrong with the left’s court-packing proposals that it’s difficult to know where to begin.

“But let’s start with the ludicrous idea that packing the court will somehow restore the court’s legitimacy in the eyes of the public.

“(Not that the court’s legitimacy has been lost in the eyes of anyone but far-left liberals.

“In fact, the Supreme Court might be the federal institution that garners the greatest degree of respect from the public.

“The Supreme Court’s approval rating routinely exceeds that of Congress – usually by a substantial margin.)

“But let’s suppose for a second that liberals are correct and that the Supreme Court has lost its legitimacy in the eyes of the public.

“If that is the case, Mr. President, there is nothing – nothing – Democrats could do that would be more guaranteed to further undermine public trust in the court than to pack the court.

“Nothing.

“Do Democrats seriously think that they can enhance the credibility of the Supreme Court in the eyes of the American people by expanding it to add more Democrat justices?

“Do they think the 74 million people who voted for Republicans in the last election are going to see this as adding necessary balance to the court?

“If they do, they should think again.

“As Justice Stephen Breyer noted just last week, “It 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.”

“Republicans – and, I venture to say, 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.

“And they’re afraid that if the Supreme Court isn’t packed full of Democrat nominees, the Supreme Court might rule against them.

“And so more and more Democrats are apparently perfectly willing to consider undermining – if not destroying – a fundamental part of our system of government to guarantee their political power.

“Mr. President, let’s think about this in practical terms for a minute.

“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, Mr. President, the Supreme Court could be expanded to laughable proportions.

“How many justices are we going to have?

“15?

“20?

“30?

“There would be no end to this lunacy.

“Mr. President, in the words of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg only two years ago, “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.”

“It was a bad idea, Mr. President.

“And fortunately for the country, when President Roosevelt proposed his court-packing plan, both Republicans and Democrats opposed it.

“Unfortunately, Democrats today seem to be more concerned with power than principle – or, in some cases, maybe lack the courage to stand up to the ferocity of the far left.

“In the past President Biden has powerfully defended American institutions. 

“But now he seems incapable of standing up to the far left.

“And so now we have an American president implicitly endorsing the idea of court-packing by establishing a commission to study the proposal.

“Mr. President, Democrats like to talk about democracy and making sure people have a voice.

“But it’s becoming increasingly clear that they think their voices – and the voices of liberal Americans – are the only voices that should be heard.

“And if they can’t win by convincing the public to elect strong Democrat majorities, they’ve made it increasingly clear that they’re willing to undermine our institutions to ensure their grip on power.

“Don’t like the makeup of the Supreme Court?

“Expand the court with new Democrat justices until you can be sure you get the results you want.

“Don’t like Senate rules that give the minority party a voice in legislation?

“Change the rules.

“Don’t like your election prospects?

“Pass legislation designed to give your party a permanent advantage in electoral contests.

“Mr. President, I understand Democrats’ passion for their political beliefs.

“I’m 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.

“But 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.

“It should quickly fade into the obscurity it deserves.”