Former Attorney General Eric Holder is not be running for president in 2020. But he’s has come out in support of a great idea, and 2020 candidates should listen up. Today, during a discussion with the Yale Law National Security Group, Holder said that the next Democrat who wins the presidency and has a Democratic majority in the Senate should “seriously” consider adding more seats to the Supreme Court.
A representative for Holder confirmed to The Daily Beast that he supports court packing.
“In response to a question, Attorney General Holder said that given the unfairness, unprecedented obstruction, and disregard of historical precedent by Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans, when Democrats retake the majority they should consider expanding the Supreme Court to restore adherence to previously accepted norms for judicial nominations,” spokesman Patrick Rodenbush said in a statement.
This is obviously true. It’s one simple way to right some of the wrongs that have been foisted upon the American people by Republicans. We may not be able to undo the Trump presidency, or force Republicans in Congress to act like human beings, but we can, given a Democratic president and majority in the Senate, level the playing field slightly by adding members to the Supreme Court.
“The Supreme Court dismantled the Voting Rights Act, allowed a flood of dark money to corrupt our politics, and permitted hyper-partisan gerrymandering to rig the system against voters,” Kate Kendell, the campaign manager for Pack the Courts, said in a statement. “Because the Court has undermined the institutions of democracy, court packing is the only way to restore the integrity of the political system.”
“Attorney General Holder’s positive remarks about court packing today underscore the importance of judicial reform as the 2020 campaign kicks into high gear. To be taken seriously, presidential candidates must explain how they will restore democracy over the objections of a hostile and partisan Court,” she continued.
Kendell is right. Court packing is a great litmus test for 2020 candidates. If candidates are serious about upholding American democracy, and if they are concerned about the long term impact of a Republican-controlled Supreme Court, there’s no reason they should oppose adding more seats. This isn’t rocket science.
But so far, the only 2020 candidate to have publicly supported court packing is South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, an underdog who’s unlikely to be a serious contender.
“It’s no more a departure from norms than what the Republicans did to get the judiciary to the place it is today,” Buttigieg has said previously, according to The Daily Beast. “Bold, ambitious ideas need a hearing right now.”
Republicans have taken active steps in recent years to prevent any Democrat-supported nominee being confirmed to the court. In addition to their stonewalling of Obama nominee Merrick Garland, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also changed the rules of the Senate to allow confirmation of Supreme Court nominees by a simple majority. Both Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch were confirmed with less than 60 votes.
And yet, we know what will happen if Democratic candidates begin to come out in favor of court packing. McConnell and others will say that Democrats are trying to stage a coup, that they are undemocratic, that they don’t support this country’s ideals. Republicans will accuse Democrats of the worst crimes they can imagine, all for doing the same things they would do in a heartbeat if given the chance.
Fuck them, and fuck their bullshit. The time to worry about Republican reactions is long over. It’s time for Democrats to step up if they are serious about saving our democracy and our planet.