The Corner

Politics & Policy

The Court Packers Are Still at It

Holly Otterbein reports for Politico on a collection of left-wing organizations that have endorsed adding two justices to the Supreme Court.

What we have now, their memo claims, is “an affront to democracy: 15 of the last 19 Supreme Court justices were nominated by Republicans, despite the fact that Republicans have lost the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections. Four of the five conservatives currently on the court were appointed by Republicans who took office despite losing the popular vote.”

These are ideologically convenient claims that don’t make much sense under scrutiny. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito were indeed appointed by a president, George W. Bush, who initially took office having lost the popular vote in a presidential election; but in between his office-taking and his nomination of the justices, he won the popular vote in another presidential election. If we’re playing this absurd game, perhaps we should note that Bush got an actual majority. Two of the liberal justices on the Supreme Court were appointed by a Democrat who never did.

The 15-out-of-19 claim is even more absurd. It treats it as somehow illegitimate that (for example) President Reagan got to fill three seats on the Supreme Court because his party lost later elections.* (None of those three is still on the Court.)

The court packers have a very uphill fight ahead of them. Otterbein notes that during the primary, Biden came out against the idea.

*Update: And because it won later elections while losing the popular vote. Thanks to reader PJM for noting this omission.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


The Latest