The Democrats have control over most of the government right now, but they could be going for more with the U.S. Supreme Court. At least one important official on their own side is warning that it may spell trouble, however.
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer worries that if Democrats go for a power grab by increasing the number of judges on the Supreme Court, it could “diminish” trust in the government and rule of law, the Daily Wire reported. Notably, Breyer was appointed by former President Bill Clinton and is also a registered Democrat.
In his remarks at Harvard Law School Tuesday, Breyer cautioned Democrats against court-packing, which simply means appointing additional judges to the Supreme Court to change the political balance. Rather than having to wait to replace enough of the existing nine justices, President Joe Biden could add enough seats to tip the balance in his favor.
However, Breyer cautioned that the court’s reputation is dependent upon “a trust that the court is guided by legal principle, not politics,” according to the Washington Post. “Structural alteration motivated by the perception of political influence can only feed that perception, further eroding that trust,” Breyer warned.
“If the public sees judges as ‘politicians in robes,’ its confidence in the courts, and in the rule of law itself, can only diminish, diminishing the court’s power, including its power to act as a ‘check’ on the other branches,” he further explained. It would seem that tinkering with the number of judges to serve a purpose would do more harm than good.
Furthermore, as Breyer pointed out, it isn’t even necessary under the court’s current 6-3 balance in favor of originalist judges. The court proved its lack of partisanship when it didn’t overturn the 2020 presidential election results despite immense pressure from former President Donald Trump.
“The court’s decision in the 2000 presidential election case, Bush v. Gore, is often referred to as an example of its favoritism of conservative causes,” Breyer went on. “But the court did not hear or decide cases that affected the political disagreements arising out of the 2020 Trump v. Biden election.”
While conservatives view the Supreme Court as the last stopgap against a tyrannical government, the left sees it as another lever to pull to get what they want. Breyer is correct that intentionally adding justices to the court will undermine the American people’s faith in the entire system, and Democrats should consider themselves warned.