Back in 2013, President Obama, frustrated by Republican unwillingness to pass his agenda, lashed out at Congress. “To all my friends in Congress, understand that how business is done in this town has to change. You don’t like a particular policy or a particular president? Then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election,” Obama said. “But don’t break it.”
Obama was wrong at the time — the Republican House was merely stymieing his agenda in ways completely foreseen by the Constitution. And Obama himself would do serious damage to the system itself by ignoring Constitutional checks and balances to centralize power in the executive branch.
But Obama’s general point — that if you lose elections, you don’t get to simply change the rules of the game – seems to have gone unheeded. By Democrats.
In the aftermath of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, Democrats have come up with a plan. According to The New York Times, Brian Fallon, top spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, says that Democrats should consider extreme measures. What measures are more extreme than slandering a judicial nominee as a gang rapist? Why, simply packing the court, FDR style!
Some have gone as far as proposing — if Democrats were to retake control of Congress and the White House in 2020 or after — expanding the number of justices on the court to pack it with liberals or trying to impeach, remove and replace Justice Kavanaugh. … Democrats fear that the new majority will systematically crush their achievements — not just hollowing out past gains like abortion rights, but also striking down programs they hope to enact if they regain power, like expanding Medicare or efforts to curb climate change.
Democrats aren’t afraid that the Court will do its job — they’re afraid that the Court doing its job will mean checks and balances actually work. So instead, they want to do away with the Court as a functioning institution. Once the party in power simply decides to pack the Court with nominees, the Court simply turns over every few years. In fact, Republicans could theoretically pack the Court right this moment. All they’d have to do is nuke the filibuster, Harry Reid-style.
Nonetheless, the “pack the court” routine is already gaining ground. EJ Dionne writes at The Washington Post today:
And there should now be no squeamishness about the urgency of enlarging the Supreme Court if Democrats have the power to do so after the 2020 elections. The current majority on the court was created through illegitimate means. Changing that majority would not constitute politicizing the court because conservatives have already done this without apology.
This is hilarious. The Left turned the Court into a tool of policy under FDR after FDR’s threats to pack it, then again under Earl Warren, then used the Court to cram down everything from abortion to same-sex marriage, all the while preventing the nomination of judges like Robert Bork and slandering candidates like Clarence Thomas. But it’s the GOP that politicized the court.
Our institutions are durable — so durable that the Left’s great fears of a Trumpian fascist takeover haven’t materialized in the slightest. But the Left now wants to trash those institutions in a puerile gesture of rage.
And it’s not just the Supreme Court. The Left is also calling for an end to the Senate of the United States, because it’s not representative enough — which is the entire point of that body. As Aaron Blake of The Washington Post reports:
Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation has brought about a new round of complaints among Democrats about how allegedly unfair and even undemocratic our system of government has become. … Now, it’s also aimed at the Senate, where small GOP-dominated states are increasingly passing things with the backing of a minority of Americans behind them.
Blake’s Washington Post colleague Philip Bump was one of the people pushing the anti-Senate agenda.
Democrats ought to take Barack Obama’s advice. If they want to get things done, they could start by winning a few elections. There’s one just a few weeks away. They’ll get their opportunity.