Point: Balance the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court needs balance to maintain judicial nonpartisanship


Will Katcher/Collegian

By Dan Riley, Assistant Op/Ed Editor

The nation is intensely divided. In the past, there was a shared vision of the future with differing ideas of how to get there. We no longer share that vision; we are now competing for the future. The game has changed.

It changed in 2000, when the veil of judicial nonpartisanship – that last bastion of apolitical governance – was lifted from our eyes after the conservative Supreme Court stole the presidency from democratic candidate, Al Gore.

Had the Supreme Court not intervened on the behalf of popular-vote loser, George W. Bush, who knows what world we might inhabit? We might be 18 years into a climate change reduction program. No Trump presidency. No Brett Kavanaugh. Instead, we have the world as it is: one in which a morally rotting, scientifically illiterate and demographically doomed coalition of angry, white men, led by the worst person in the United States, has defined the balance of power on the Supreme Court for the next 30 years.

A wild animal is most dangerous when it is backed into a corner; the dominant social class of rich, white men is making its final stand in the face of a demographic shift that is redirecting political power to a progressive coalition that embraces feminism, diversity, religious tolerance and welfare capitalism. Stealing a Supreme Court seat from Merrick Garland and placing Neil Gorsuch on the court as well as this weekend’s confirmation of Kavanaugh, may be their last chance to hold onto the power they stand to lose elsewhere through the mechanism of judicial lifetime appointments.

Neil Gorsuch is already an illegitimate justice. The American people chose who should nominate a justice for confirmation in the event of a February 2016 vacancy during the Presidential Election of 2012. They chose Barack Obama– that’s how the Constitution works. As such, Gorsuch’s tenure in Antonin Scalia’s, who passed in Feb. of 2016, seat is an affront to democracy.

Of course, Donald Trump should not have had any nominees confirmed. He is under investigation for collusion with a foreign government to win an election. Until the Special Counsel presents his findings, Trump cannot be allowed to name lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court. Further, the president is an unindicted co-conspirator for campaign finance violations related to covering up his affairs. If he were not the president, he might have to defend himself in court. If it turns out that he won the 2016 election through illegal or conspiratorial means, then he is an illegitimate president with illegitimate nominees, be they Kavanaugh or anyone else on his list.

We are a center-left country staring down the barrel of a lifetime of far-right judicial rulings. That is undemocratic, unjust and unacceptable. It must be rectified: Democrats must take back Congress and the White House, and then they must pack the court in order to balance it. The Constitution does not mandate the Court have nine justices, and its size has fluctuated seven times in the past, ranging from five to 10 justices. There is as much a historical precedent as there is a modern necessity for the Court to be increased to 11 justices, so the next democratic President should add two liberal justices to the Court in order to right the wrongs of the GOP.

Court packing would invite retribution. However, the sake of the future demands action, and that retribution can be nullified if liberals turn out to vote. Fearing Republican retaliation is nonsense; doing the right thing, adhering to procedural norms, is just something Republicans take advantage of. The Bush v. Gore decision demonstrates that a right-leaning SCOTUS cannot be trusted to defend democratic values. The game has changed: vote for progressive Democrats this November, and in each November that follows, because we are competing for the future and liberals are going to win. We just have to make sure the other side doesn’t get to work the refs.

Dan Riley is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected]