Harry Reid warns Democrats away from court-packing hubris
During his tenure as both Senate minority leader and Senate majority leader, Nevada’s Senator Harry Reid was a reliable Democrat attack dog. It was he who first started chipping away at the filibuster when, in 2013, he went “nuclear” and abolished the filibuster for executive branch appointments and all judicial nominations but for the Supreme Court. However, even Harry Reid is worried by the Democrats’ current push to turn the Supreme Court into a patently partisan organization through court-packing and term limits.
It was probably because of his experience with the nuclear option that Harry Reid realized that, in politics, big changes may bring short-term benefits but long-term problems. As an opinion piece in Roll Call explained about that nuclear option Reid detonated, ultimately, it wasn’t the Democrats who benefited:
[I]n 2013, it would be Harry Reid and a Democratic majority that would do away with the filibuster for executive branch appointments and judicial nominations, with the exception of the Supreme Court. Despite warnings from the minority that it was a decision they would live to regret, Reid and the Democrats deployed the nuclear option anyway.
Their day of reckoning came on Jan. 20, 2017, with a Republican president and Senate in control of judicial nominations. For the past four years, President Donald Trump and Republicans have done their constitutional duty in nominating and confirming federal judges, including now three Supreme Court nominations. But don’t blame Trump or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Blame Harry Reid who put politics ahead of principle and opened the door for Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and soon Amy Coney Barrett.
On Saturday, Harry Reid, who retired from the Senate in January 2017, spoke with CNN’s Jim Acosta about President Biden’s newly formed commission to examine expanding the number of Supreme Court justices (i.e., packing the Court) as well as imposing term limits on the justices. The purpose of both proposals is to ensure a huge, permanent majority of activist leftist justices who feel that the Constitution holds them back.
When Reid appeared on CNN, Jim Acosta asked him whether he thought it was a good idea to add seats to the Supreme Court. Reid was firm – no, it was a very bad idea and, indeed, he believed that the commission itself might realize this and draw back from the precipice of dramatically changing the Court:
Even Harry Reid thinks packing SCOTUS is going too far: “We better be very, very careful in saying that we need to expand the Supreme Court. I think we better be very, very careful." pic.twitter.com/Di7yNX98Cn— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) April 10, 2021
I think it’s — we should be very, very careful in doing so. I have no problem with the commission but I think that the commission is going to come back and disappoint a lot of people because I think they’re going to come back and say, we should just kind of leave it alone. I think it would be inappropriate at this time after that long history we’ve had in the country to have term limits for judges. I think that we better be very, very careful in saying that we need to expand the Supreme Court. I think we better be very, very, careful.
Acosta was so disgusted with that answer that he insulted Reid, saying that people would be surprised because “you were definitely a fighter when you were in the Senate and liked to take it to the other side.” The obvious implication, of course, is that Reid, who appeared pale and puffy, is now a weak, frightened old man. That insult spurred Reid to announce that the filibuster is “on its way out” because you can’t have a “democracy” with a filibuster.
One would think Reid’s three decades in the Senate would have taught him that we don’t have a democracy. We have a democratic republic. The Founders’ whole point in creating this form of government was to avoid a pure democracy, with its risk of mob rule and, instead, to have steady, thoughtful people governing America. As Biden incoherently but appropriately said in 2005, the filibuster is part of ensuring that steadiness and moderation. Democrats, though, want a revolution, and steadiness, thoughtfulness, and moderation have no place in their plans.
IMAGE: Harry Reid. Twitter screengrab.
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