US SUPREME COURT – One result of a Trump presidency that seems to most disturb Democrats is his ability to shape the US Supreme Court for many decades to come, long after he's gone. That's why several Democratic presidential candidates want to radically increase the number of justices once the Democrats take back the White House.
Maybe Make It 15... Instead of 9
As candidate Beto O'Rourke said recently, "There's nothing in the Constitution that defines the number of justices."
Presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg leans toward 15, outlining on Fox News Sunday his vision for how it'd work, saying, "You have 15 members, but only 10 of them are appointed in the political fashion. Five of them can only be seated by a unanimous agreement of the other 10."
Candidate and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said on the podcast Pod Save America, "When it swings back around to us, what are we going to do? And my answer on that is all the options are on the table."
Ginsburg Doesn't Like It
But recently on National Public Radio, liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she's not at all in favor of the Court-packing solution.
"Nine seems to be a good number," she said to NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg.
She pointed to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's wildly unsuccessful 1937 plot to take the Court's numbers to as high as 15, ripped by both parties at the time.
During that year, Indiana Democrat Rep. Samuel Pettingill said, "A packed jury, a packed Court and a stuffed ballot box are all on the same moral plane. This is more power than a good man should want or a bad man should have."
Justice Ginsburg said on NPR, "If anything would make the Court appear partisan it would be that: one side saying 'when we're in power, we're going to enlarge the number of judges. So we would have more people who will vote the way we want them to.'"
Wouldn't Republicans Just Do the Same Thing?
Candidate Bernie Sanders stands with Ginsburg, saying he's worried if a Democrat president did that kind of packing, the next time Republicans took the White House, they'd just do the same thing.
Law professor Alan Dershowitz said on Fox News packing the Court's a horrible idea.
"Both Republicans and Democrats have always tried to use the Supreme Court to their advantage," Dershowitz told the Fox News anchors. "And we the American public shouldn't let them do it. We should insist that the Supreme Court remain and be a neutral, unbiased institution."
True, it's not unconstitutional to change the number of justices on the Supreme Court. But at this point, the number has been nine for 150 years.