After President Donald Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, Democrats began suggesting a potential Joe Biden administration engage in “court packing,” a historical term referring to President Franklin Roosevelt’s failed attempt to increase the number of judges on the Supreme Court.
To combat these allegations and get the heat off of them, Democrats began claiming that Republicans were currently packing the court, changing the definition and gaslighting Americans along the way. As The Daily Wire’s Frank Camp wrote in October, Montana Senate candidate Steve Bullock claimed during a debate against Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) that Republicans were packing the court. Biden himself made a similar statement around the same time, saying, “The only court packing is going on right now—it’s going on with Republicans packing the court now.”
What Democrats were trying to claim was that Republicans were “court packing” by confirming judges to open seats. Republicans have not created any new judicial seats, they are merely confirming Trump’s judicial choices to fill vacant seats.
Democrats wants to change the definition to take the scrutiny off of their members calling on Biden to increase the number of seats on the Supreme Court so that the Left could have more ideological judges on their side since Trump was able to confirm three SCOTUS judges and tip the ideological leanings of the court.
Enter Dictionary.com, which at some point between November 1 and December 1 changed the definition of “court packing” to fit the Democrats’ new, made up definition.
Law student J.D. Graham noted the updated definition on Twitter, using the Wayback Machine to show that the definition had changed during that time.
Latest capture on 11/1: https://t.co/3MdrEMAmnx
— J. D. Graham (@jd_graham_) December 8, 2020
On November 1, 2020, Dictionary.com defined “court packing” as “an unsuccessful attempt by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937 to appoint up to six additional justices to the Supreme Court, which had invalidated a number of his New Deal laws.”
By December 1, the definition was updated to include a second explanation, above the original, which read: “the practice of changing the number or composition of judges on a court, making it more favorable to particular goals or ideologies, and typically involving an increase in the number of seats on the court.”
In response to Graham’s tweet, the official Twitter account of Dictionary.com claimed the definition was changed because “Language evolves. So do we.”
National Republican Senatorial Committee senior advisor Matt Whitlock responded to the updated definition by tweeting:
Dictionary, can you tell me he definition of “Orwellian?” Court packing has meant the same thing for a 60 years. Changing *definitions of words* to fit the political points of bad-faith lunatics is an absolute TERRIBLE precedent.
Dictionary, can you tell me he definition of “Orwellian?”
Court packing has meant the same thing for a 60 years. Changing *definitions of words* to fit the political points of bad-faith lunatics is an absolute TERRIBLE precedent.
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) December 8, 2020
It is not the first time a well-known dictionary has changed the definition of words on a whim. In October, Merriam-Webster changed the definition of “preference” after Democrats claimed Judge Coney Barrett was transphobic for using the decades-old phrase “sexual preference.” Though it was not commonly known to most people as a slur, Democrats – some of whom had used the term themselves, such as Biden and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) – began claiming it was an offensive and bigoted term. Merriam-Webster obliged by changing the definition to fit Democrat’s sudden attack on a conservative.
Correction: An earlier version of this article identified J.D. Graham as an attorney. He is still a law student.