At the Very Least, This Bill Keeps Mitch McConnell's Hijacking of the Courts in the Public Eye

Charles P. Pierce
·2-min read
Photo credit: Stefani Reynolds - Getty Images
Photo credit: Stefani Reynolds - Getty Images

Expanding the Supreme Court is not packing the Court. Packing the Court works like this, at least in the current political moment. From NBC News:

But it represents an undercurrent of progressive fury at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for denying a vote in 2016 to President Barack Obama's pick to fill a vacancy, citing the approaching election, before confirming Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett the week before the election last year.

Senator Ed Markey (D-The Commonwealth, God save it!) and Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York have raised the stakes on the president’s commission to study the federal court by introducing a measure to increase the number of justices on the Supreme Court from nine to 13. Truth be told, Markey and Nadler are really throwing long here. Not even the president is on board with it, and there are a number of Democratic legislators who are opposed as well. Given the thin Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, the bill has no margin for error whatsoever.

And even if it somehow did pass, the idea that the Democrats could add four new justices before the 2022 midterms is completely absurd. (The devotion to maintaining the filibuster is the least of the problems.) Let’s assume for the moment that this thing does pass. If the next congressional elections go sideways on the president and his party, the ensuing bloodbath could end up with Mitch McConnell appointing four more Amy Coney Barretts.

McConnell has strenuously warned Democrats not to add seats to the court, saying there is "nothing about the structure or operation of the judicial branch that requires ‘study.’”..."President Biden campaigned on a promise of lowering the temperature and uniting a divided nation," McConnell said in a statement last week. "If he really meant it, he would stop giving oxygen to a dangerous, antiquated idea and stand up to the partisans hawking it.”

I don’t know how much a warning from McConnell is worth these days. The phrase, “Or else, what?” leaps immediately to mind, at least for the moment. And the bill does do the invaluable service of keeping McConnell’s hijack of the process in the public eye. That may be reason enough to debate the whole thing, at length, where everybody can hear.

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