Dems' court-packing threats may be backfiring
Jonathan Turley, one of the last honest and principled liberals in the public arena, suggests that the Democrats' threats to bully the justices are backfiring and that the Court is sending strong warning signals to them. In a post to his own website yesterday, the George Washington University law professor wrote:
Chief Justice John Roberts and his colleagues seem to be sending a message that the Court is not so rigidly ideological as Democratic members and activists suggest.
He believes that a series of unanimous court decisions as the current term ends "seem[s] to be sending a message that the Court is not so rigidly ideological as Democratic members and activists suggest."
This is an extraordinary litany of unanimous decisions and could in part reflect an implied message from the justices that this is a court that is not nearly as rigid and divided as suggested by Democratic members and activists
Turley does not say so, but there may be an implied threat by some of the liberal justices to vote with the conservatives if the Dems actually succeed in packing the court. In my view, they could do this out of loyalty to the institution of the SCOTUS (an institution to which they have devoted their lives, after all) now that its independence as a separate and equal branch of government is under threat.
The threats to pack the court are political thuggery, a term Turley does not use, but which I think is appropriate. In another post a day earlier, Turley cited the intimidation attempts of Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-stolen valor):
It is particularly chilling to see United States senators openly pressuring justices to vote with their side or face severe consequences. Blumenthal went as far as to mention specific cases and the expected rulings. This follows raw demands in the confirmation hearing of now Justice Amy Coney Barrett that she promise to rule on particular cases "correctly" as a condition for her confirmation.
And another tactic of the progs to bully one of the Court's liberals:
The question is whether the Democrats are overplaying their hand. Recently, a Democratic "dark money" group called Demand Justice, had a billboard truck in Washington the next day in the streets of Washington warning "Breyer, retire. Don't risk your legacy." The group is calling for open court packing to force a liberal majority. (Demand Justice once employed White House press secretary Jen Psaki as a communications consultant, and Psaki was on the advisory board of one of its voting projects.) The question is whether Breyer will accommodate such demands from the left or feel conversely that he should remain on the bench to show that such tactics do not influence members.
Perhaps the strongest reason for the nine justices to unite in resisting the intimidation was provided by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, cited by Turley yesterday:
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. not only endorsed the court-packing scheme but went even further to question why we should listen to just nine people on such important questions. She appeared to question the very basis for Marbury v. Madison — the case laying the foundation for the Supreme Court in our constitutional system. AOC challenged the role of the Court in overturning laws. She questioned "just, functionally, the idea that nine people, that a nine person court, can overturn laws that thousand — hundreds and thousands of legislators, advocates and policymakers drew consensus on." She then added "How much does the current structure benefit us? And I don't think it does."
My guess is that AOC has never heard of Marbury v. Madison, because pseudo-intellectual that she is, she would have mentioned it if she had. She loves to lecture her followers on her deep understanding of economics and politics, after all. But her words here are aimed at making the Supreme Court all but irrelevant to constitutional jurisprudence, and all justices have a powerful interest in rebuking her.
Outsiders will never understand what it is like to be a member of the Court, but my guess is that as they work in their imposing Greek Temple, they develop a strong mutual identity as part of an institution that is fundamental to the welfare of the Republic, an identity that far transcends any political issues of the day.
So maybe we should thank AOC for blundering into the one issue that could unite the Court against the progs and change some votes against them.
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