Should Packing the U.S. Supreme Court be Considered?


Aug 5, 2020
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There are quite a few sides to this issue and many legitimate arguments. And I'd say this is the perfect time to debate the topic, since we're in the midst of an election in the United States. With the recent debates between Joe Biden and Donald Trump as well as Kamala Harris and Mike Pence, Supreme Court packing is at the forefront of everyone's minds. And on top of this wonderful timing, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has also recently passed away, leaving a seat on the court open. The question many people are asking is, should President Donald Trump nominate someone to fill Ginsburg's seat? Some say he should, as he has every right to. In their eyes, the Democrats would jump at the chance and have actually argued to do the same thing just a few years ago. Others say he shouldn't. That he should leave the seat to be filled by the sitting president after the election has taken place. They claim that the people should decide who the next nominee is, not the sitting president. Which is strange, because by this logic, the people have already decided. They did four years ago when they elected a Republican senate and a Republican president. Should those people be forgotten? The rule is, the sitting president should nominate someone to fill a court position. A sitting president can do this at any time during his or her term. I'm actually not sure what the debate is about because this is what's intended to happen. What I'm seeing is a huge effort to muddy the waters, but that's just my opinion.

The Democrats have threatened to "pack the court" with up to 15 members if the Republicans go ahead with the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the court. I wonder if they would make the same threat if a Democrat president was in power at the time. I mean, right is right, right? Or would they simply change their argument to fit their needs. Anyway, there actually are valid arguments for packing the court with more members. Perhaps nine is too few? Maybe 15 is too many? Let's get into it. Should packing the court be considered? I'll be taking the affirmative view in this debate down below.

The Court Needs Balance, Which Isn't With Only Nine Justices

I suppose the real question is, should any one party get lucky enough to nominate more than their fair share of Supreme Court justices at any given time? Isn't the court supposed to appear somewhat balanced and not lean in any one ideological way? Is nine justices too few to keep the court somewhat balanced? Would 15 justices put an end to allowing any number of justices to die or retire during a president's term? With more justices, it does appear to take away the "getting lucky" factor, as President Donald Trump has undoubtedly gotten.

As it stands, the Republican party has appointed 15 of the last 19 justices to the bench. Right now, three justices lean liberal and five lean conservative. If Trump and the Republican senate get their way with appointing Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the bench, it'll be three to six and to some, that's simply not a good justice system. Really, the Supreme Court is about interpreting the U.S. Constitution fairly and impartially. but as we've all witnessed through the years, ideological perspectives do have a way of creeping in. We're only human, so the next best thing behind taking a robotic view of court cases is to have a more diversified bench.

When I argue in any debate I'm participating in, I try to look at the other side as best I can. If the shoe were on the other foot and Republicans were in the minority, would they be arguing the same exact position the Democrats are arguing right now? I think they would be. Actually, there's no doubt in my mind that they'd be doing everything in their power to stop any nomination with the intention of waiting until after the impending election. It is politics, after all. They'd have their political organizers out there on the streets and on the television espousing the virtues of waiting for the next president "to allow the people to decide." They're all the same. They just have different names. But most of them (the politicians) are most comfortable with balance and I think the majority of citizens in the United States agree.

But really, I wonder if the Democrats would be arguing for court packing at all if the Republicans agreed to avoid nomination for a few months. If that were the case, it would be true, the Democrats aren't looking for power, but merely balance in the courts. If the Republicans refuse, however, it shows that they are, in fact, looking for power over balance and to me, that's never a good thing. When that occurs...when one party seeks power like that, there's always the risk of radicalization and no matter what side you're on, you most likely wouldn't want to live in that type of environment. It's my personal opinion that most people in this country just want to go about their daily business without having to concern themselves with politics at every turn. It's only the small minority that's in it for the fight full time.

So, what would happen to court cases if Republicans had their way and nominated another conservative to the court? Well, we can all fairly accurately predict the outcome of a few. Let's take issues such as voting rights and abortion. We all know that Roe vs. Wade would be overturned and that voter identification would be required to vote around the nation. Those laws would disenfranchise a good portion of our nation's citizens.

If we think about it, aren't Republicans attempting to pack the court in their favor right now? Just by the stroke of luck, Donald Trump has had the opportunity to nominate three justices in one presidential term. There are only nine on the bench and conservatives already have the majority. Is the threat by the Democrats justified in this type of environment? I think so. They're basically doing the same thing. Threatening to make the court more balanced in their favor. If the word "balance" can even be used here.

When the Supreme Court leans either liberally or conservatively, it can affect the outcome of court cases for a generation of more. This court has an enormous amount of power and balance is truly the utmost goal. Having it lean in any one direction can produce disastrous consequences.

The real goal for both the Republicans and Democrats right now shouldn't be to find a new justice who will agree with their party's ideologies, but to find one who is fair, balanced, and who can interpret the constitution accurately and the way it was meant to be interpreted. They should be working together in a bipartisan way to real that goal.

There Are No Laws Against Having More Than Nine Justices - History is On Our Side

Here's a question - does the U.S. Constitution dictate how many justices there are to be on the Supreme Court? The answer is, no, it doesn't. There's absolutely no reason to avoid attempting to either increase or reduce the number of justices to meet the needs of the day at hand. It's Congress who decides how many justices are to be on the court and in 1789, it decided there would be six. In the years following, the number of justices has been reduced to five and increased to ten. It wasn't until 1869 when Congress changed the law to limit the number of justices to nine. It's been that way ever since. Nothing has changed.

The number of Supreme Court justices that the court is supposed to have is actually quite arbitrary and has been changed quite a bit over time. If Congress feels that it's leaning in one direction or the other too much, it can change it. Those in Congress have many times in the past in order to deal with various imbalances and they should consider doing that again now.


Aug 3, 2020
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I'd be happy to take on the negative position for this debate because I actually agree with it. I think the Democrats are simply crying and whining and if the situations were reversed, they wouldn't be looking for balance at all. They'd be looking for domination at all costs. When was the last time you saw a Democrat advocate for a more conservative justice on the Supreme Court? Never. That's when. This whole thing is a "give me a break" moment and just another ploy to threaten and to slow down a constitutional process that the current administration and Senate has every right to engage in. I have never witnessed such a bunch of babies in my life. And really, this goes for the Republicans as well. What they pulled with Merrick Garland and President Obama was abhorrent. At least give the man a vote. President Obama had every right to fill the seat within his term as President and for the Republican Senate to hold that process up was disgusting. What should have happened was for the Democrat President to work with the Republican Senate to choose a nominee they were both happy with. That's what we do as civilized folk. We don't nominate ideologues to the Supreme Court just to get the outcomes we desire. We nominate justices whom we think will uphold the Constitution. I'm pretty sure Congress and the President can figure out how to get that done.

Anyway, I'll offer a more articulate argument below. Enjoy!

The Supreme Court is Already Balanced - Why Add Such a Dangerous Precedent?

First off, I'd like to say that the recent nominations by President Donald Trump haven't been paying off as conservatives thought they would. In my view, Neil Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh haven't been giving the conservatives the outcomes they have desired. What does this show? It shows that justices today are less ideological and more constitutional than people have expected. Either that, or the justices that Republicans nominate are actually what they say they are - which is good. These justices interpret the Constitution accurately and fairly and the way it was meant to be. If Neil and Brett rules against the Republican party, then so be it. They're just doing the jobs they were hired to do.

Also, if we look back in time, the Supreme Court has largely been a balanced one. Beginning in 1912, back when Democrats and Republicans cemented their respective platforms, there have been a total of 52 Supreme Court justices appointed. Out of them, 28 have been appointed by Republican Presidents and 24 by Democrat Presidents. That's not bad and I don't think that's anything to be screaming about today, especially because in a few years, the situations might be reversed. Democrats have a tendency to change the rules when they're losing, which has come back to bite them on multiple occasions.

Let's look at a bit of reality here. What we as citizens are used to seeing is big stories on the news about very high profile cases. Many of these types of cases have come down to 5-4 rulings, which has given us a sense of ideology on the court. By only showing the populace the high profile decisions, the media is leaving out many of the most difficult and challenging legal issues that are buried in the goings ons of every day. But while these other cases aren't as popular, they garner broad agreement among the justices. This puts the ideological argument to rest because most justices agree most of the time, either one way or another. And when they disagree, they disagree because of their opinion on the way laws are meant to be interpreted, not because of their alleged ideological leanings.

Furthermore, when we talk about "conservative" or "liberal," those words apply only to every day politics, not judicial philosophy. So really, calling a justice a conservative one or a liberal one isn't called for, since those words aren't understood by the courts as we the general population perceive them.

Here are two very interesting quotes by now Presidential nominee:

"No, I’m not prepared to go on and try to pack the court, because we’ll live to rue that day."

"We add three justices. Next time around, we lose control, they add three justices. We begin to lose any credibility the court has at all."

So even the leader of the Democrat party doesn't want to pack the courts. We must ask ourselves, who does then? Is it the far left? If so, we normal people really should just tune them out.

There are countless quotes by both liberals and conservatives out there who know how badly the court packing idea can end up. Yes, one team might get the outcome they want today, but what about tomorrow? What happens when the opposing team has the opportunity to pack the court themselves? This is the kind of thing we should all take note of. What seems good today probably won't seem good tomorrow. So don't fall for the trap of instant gratification.

Overall, the Supreme Court had shown to be a fiercely independent institution. Congress isn't. Congress and the Presidency can't be trusted to remain independent because they're no meant to be. They have political leanings, as they should. They're combative because that's the way they're supposed to be. Keep politics out of the courts and don't attempt to stack it in your favor, no matter which way you lean.

History Really Likes Nine Justices on the Supreme Court

The United States is nothing if not set by precedent. We like what we're used to because whatever the issue is, it's already been dealt with by very intelligent people and it's stood the test of time. Here's an interesting fact to illustrate my point. Why is it that we keep nominating people who have law degrees and who have been judges previously? The United States Constitution doesn't explicitly state that that must be the case. We the people can nominate a plumber if we want. Well, I'll tell you why we nominate judges. Because they know how to judge. They have experience and a record we can base them on. We know they're not crazy. We tend to like that in this country.

Have you ever heard of a guy named Ulysses S. Grant? Yes, he was president of the U.S. way back in 1868. That's when the Supreme Court was designated to have nine justices. It's been like that and fine ever since. So let me get this straight - the Supreme Court has had a wonderfully operating court with nine justices since 1868, yet today in 2020 a bunch of spoiled Millennials want to change it because they don't "like" it? Give me a break. This is as expected, I guess. So typical. Because these criers don't like the direction of our wonderful country, they want to change the rules and over 150 years of precedent? Yeah, that sounds reasonable.

My final point - for the past four years I've been listening to liberals whine about how divided this country is. It seems that this is the only thing they care about. Let's say the Democrats have a sweep in this November's election. Let's say they then pack the court based strictly on party lines. What will that do about the divisive issue? I can tell you what. It will make it worse. Do you think the Democrats will care about divisiveness after they get what they want? I can guarantee they won't, which goes to show how genuine they are with their feelings. I'm calling BS when I see it. The Democrats simply want power and nothing else. I highly doubt having a high court that half the country views as illegitimate would be a good thing.
Should Packing the U.S. Supreme Court be Considered? was posted on 10-08-2020 by Newman in the Debate Forum forum.

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