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Posted by on Mar 5, 2010 in Politics | 11 comments

Philly Inquirer op-ed: Obama Should Pack the Supreme Court (Guest Voice)

Philly Inquirer op-ed: Obama should pack the Supreme Court
by Jon Wells

In an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer that is stunning in its partisan short-sightedness and frightening in its implications for the belief system of many on the hard left, Stan Isaacs pushes the notion that President Obama, faced with a Supreme Court that is likely to rule against him in a narrow 5-4 fashion, should follow FDR’s lead and attempt to pack the Court in his favor.

Isaacs is practically giddy in telling us that the size of the Court has fluctuated over American history (though it has remained static since 1869), and FDR faced similar challenges from a hostile judiciary, so by this logic Obama would be well within his rights to simply expand the size of the Court and appoint a few ideologically aligned Justices to rubber stamp whatever proposals he gets passed through Congress.

The only problem is that it would be just as unpopular now as it was in FDR’s time. The public would correctly view such a move as a move by a single President to exert singular control over every potential measure of Constitutional check against his power. Technically, the President could probably do it, but in so doing he would cast himself as a unitary executive whose will would trump the concerns and protests of any who stood in his way.

The scary part is that folks like Isaacs have no problem whatsoever giving their favorite politician such authority. In their frustration with an American public that they see as too ignorant to know what’s best for them, they strive to give kingly powers to anyone who promises to enact their progressive agenda, democracy and the will of the people be damned.

With columns like this, can you really blame conservatives for getting antsy about the growth of government and the push to give Congress and the White House more and more power over economic and societal decisions? There is a disturbing willingness to circumvent the spirit and letter of the law in order to enact a political agenda pursued with an almost religious zeal. We see it in the most hardened arguments to ignore the protests of a wide segment of the country and ram through health care reform via reconciliation, and we see it in opinions expressed here.

Such acts are the baby steps of a banana republic, one that would quickly fall into totalitarianism. The processes of our government may be inconvenient, but they were designed to prevent any one faction from gaining too much power over all others. In a quest to fulfill a political wish list, some on the left (and right) would do well to remember that the Founders weren’t coming up with the rules and scorecards for some arcane political game that one can “win” and get everything they want enacted – they were attempting to create a form of government that simultaneously empowered a common sense majority and protected the rights of the minority opinion.

We have transformed our political process into a “winner take all” mentality, and our political discourse reflects this. It may be already too late to reverse this sports world mentality of government, but the integrity of our representative democracy demands that we try.

Jonathan Wells is a 28-year-old husband and father who lives in Ohio and has a day job in the microbiology field. He notes that he tends “be conservative in most of my views, but by no means do I bear blind allegiance to a political party.” He stresses that he is open-minded and encourages “any civil disagreement (or uncivil agreement) any of you would care to express.” He likes to make people think – and does so on his blog Wellsy’s World.

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  • Axel Edgren

    What do your propose the left does instead, to defend itself against the invariable attempts from the right to dominate? The current SCOTUS has been ideological and right-wing for a long while now, and it would be interesting to see your proof that Obama playing nice would ever be met quid pro quo by the people who oppose him.

  • Don Quijote

    I wouldn’t worry about this if I were you. There is this fantasy amongst rank and file democrats particularly liberals that one day we will have elected democratic officials which have the intestinal fortitude of a selected Republican pResident… Not going to happen, most of us consider ourselves fortunate if our elected democratic officials does not roll over and show his belly to the first Republican he/she meets…

    As far as Banana Republic goes, the Party that put a President in the White House on a 5-4 vote on the Supreme Court really should not go there, particularly after said president went out and wiped his ass with the Bill of Rights without a peep from the Republican Party.

  • ProfElwood

    The last attempt to pass such legislation (The Judiciary Reorganization act of 1937) killed a certain senator Joe Robinson. All for the cause.

  • JSpencer

    can you really blame conservatives for getting antsy about the growth of government and the push to give Congress and the White House more and more power

    Well, heck, I don’t blame them so much for that bit of hypocrisy, I blame them more for cheerleading low standards, having few worthwhile ideas, and being obstructionist. I doubt Obama has the appetite for packing the USSC, although I’m sure the appetite for that sort of paranoia among some of his detractors borders on insatiable. Btw, too bad that rumor about Roberts retiring was bogus. Would have been a nice bit of spring cleaning that. 😉

  • DLS

    It’s no surprise how degenerate some on the far Left have been, or that this is a “response” to the current state of affairs. Logical and morality are missing there.

    Sotomayor was a potential threat of scummy judicial activism (that the hard-core still defends) but Obama’s choice was far from the worst conceivable, and I believe most would say she is fine (I believe she is fine). I also don’t believe Obama will offend Americans by going too far left in appointments to openings (at least one is now coming up, if I am not mistaken) to the Federal Reserve Board, for example — he might appoint lefties who are easy-money types, say, or even put some like Krugman, who has descended into a Dim party and far-left hack, in that role, exploiting his academic credentials and putting a left academic rather than a banker-or-finance insider in the position, but they won’t probably be any kinds of appointments that would try to convert the Fed into some kind of left-wing activist or hard-core PC interventionist threat.

    (Hell, the Fed opening may be the perfect exit placement for Geithner — send him back to the finance world and promote him, too — the befitting kind of ending as a choice of the Obama administration. And actually putting Krugman there would be more appropriate as well as legitimate than choosing him or other leftists like Warren as the new Treasury Secretary, a true repellent left-wing threat.)

    • Axel Edgren

      Can’t you post that kind of cloudy, paranoid bumf over at poligazette or something?

    • Silhouette

      “Sotomayor was a potential threat of scummy judicial activism (that the hard-core still defends)”
      You mean after C. Thomas right? Nature seeks balance..

      From this day forward, Justices should only be chosen based on their stalwart refusal to be swayed by any external pressure apart from evidence and testimony. They must actually be hermited and so stubbornly slavish to blind justice that it borders on pathological. And they should be able to recite the entire Constitution, Preamble, Declaration of Independence and supporting documents word for word in their sleep. From there they should be vetted

      But no, seriously..

      • DLS

        “You mean after C. Thomas right?”

        No, obviously.  No “CounterSpin” (to use FAIR’s show’s misleading name)

        Obama raised concerns when he made that alarming as well as stupid “empathy” remark about what’s needed in a Justice, but his choice looked good.  (Interesting how she’ll rule on the Chicago gun case.)

  • JSpencer

    Hard to get much competence mileage out of a reactionary rubber-stamper like Thomas. Given that the same infection is shared by certain other members of the USSC maybe a little packing would make good sense. Doubt we’ll see it happen though, and if we did the squealing would be loud enough to hear all the way to Zanzibar.

  • DLS
  • Leonidas

    This is just another wing nut progressive writer, but still can’t top the Atlanta progressive paper that fired a journalist for being too objective in his reporting:

    Atlanta Progressive News fires reporter for trying to be objective

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