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Op-ed Placement

Democrats Doubling Down on Court-packing Have a Short Memory

BY Peter Vicenzi
03/04/2019
Originally Published in The Daily Caller by Peter Vicenzi on 2/28/19.

When radical progressives can’t advance their policy agenda within the boundaries of the Constitution, they change the rules. The integrity of the process has never mattered to Democrats. The ends have always justified the means.

Democrats in all branches of government have made clear their commitment to sabotaging the Trump administration at every turn, and his judicial nominations are no exception. Since President Trump took office, congressional Democrats have delayed a record-breaking number of federal district and appeals court nominations.

At the end of 2018, there were more unfilled judicial positions than any two-year Congress in our nation’s history. These positions have been vacant for so long, the Judicial Conference has classified many of them as “judicial emergencies.”

Democrats fought to block Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh from the Supreme Court bench with a toxicity that would dissuade any rational person from pursuing a future career in public service. They lost that battle, and true to form, are now looking for a way to change the rules.

One proposal is to fundamentally transform the structure and functionality of the Supreme Court. Progressive radicals want to expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court to include more judicial activists who will advance a big-government agenda.

If there was any pretense left of Democrats wanting to preserve an independent and nonpartisan Supreme Court, there no longer is. The name of the organization leading this initiative is called “Pack the Courts.”

I’m not kidding. These organizers are claiming the politicization of the judiciary will be stopped by a Democrat-run outfit called “Pack the Courts.” Something tells me they aren’t interested in packing the courts with judges committed to upholding constitutional law without bias.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to expand the number of Supreme Court justices in 1937 to sway judicial support toward his New Deal. His efforts failed, but some historians argue the mere proposal of such a power-grab intimidated some justices into a more favorable view of FDR’s big-government agenda.

With policy initiatives like the “Green New Deal” on the horizon and a rising generation of arrogant and power-hungry Democratic legislators, history appears to be repeating itself. Packing the courts with left-leaning judges is wishful thinking under a Republican-controlled Senate and White House, but who knows what the 2020 elections will bring. Regardless, Democrats must understand this judicial power grab would be a double-edged sword.

The national political mood is cyclical. Any powers granted to the current political party in power will set dangerous precedent for the next in line. How would Democrats react if a future Republican president packs the court to put more conservative justices on the bench?

Would they be comfortable with a super-sized Supreme Court open to dismantling the administrative state, striking down Roe v. Wade, and abolishing the “Affordable Care Act” in full?

Democrats are notoriously shortsighted in their attempts to weaponize the federal government. When former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) decided to lay the foundation for the “nuclear option” as a means to bypass the two-thirds majority needed to end Senate debate in 2013, he failed to anticipate Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s (R-Ky.) decision to employ the same means a few short years later.

When Reid lowered the threshold from 60 to 51 votes to get cloture on executive nominees, he set a precedent for McConnell to do the same for Supreme Court nominees. When President Obama unilaterally signed onto the Paris Climate Accord without a Senate vote, all President Trump had to do was announce his unilateral decision to leave it.

I bet Democrats would love to take some of these strategic mistakes back to limit the influence of President Trump’s reform agenda. Unfortunately, that’s not how power works in Washington. Once it’s granted, it never goes away. It only grows.

The modern Democratic Party wants the federal government to have control over nearly every aspect of our lives, but they won’t always control the levers of power in government. A word of advice to this rookie class of power-hungry progressives: what goes around comes around. Be careful what you wish for.