Should Democrats Pack the Supreme Court?: PRO

Norah Hussaini, Staff Writer

Climate change, women’s rights and police brutality. These are three of the most pressing issues in society today. With the 6-3 conservative lead in the Supreme Court, major advancement on these issues may not be made for at least the next few decades. After the passing of iconic Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the nomination of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the Court is tipped far into conservative favor. One of the most notable solutions to this imbalance is court packing. Court packing is the expansion of the number of justices on the Supreme Court in order to make decisions more balanced. While it’s one of the most controversial ideas on how to balance the Supreme Court, it’s also arguably the most effective way.

President Donald Trump’s four years in office have separated families at the border, cost us hundreds of thousands of lives due to COVID-19 and torn apart our close relationships with powerful allies. Even if President-elect Joe Biden can move forward legislation either in partnership with a Democratic or Republican legislature, the Supreme Court could simultaneously be undoing major progress on cases like Roe v. Wade, the Affordable Care Act and LGBTQ+ marriage rights, which are typically very important to Liberals. 

Cases decided by the Supreme Court could even affect the result of future elections, like what happened in 2000 when George W. Bush defeated Al Gore. The Supreme Court became involved because of a dispute over the vote count in Florida, when there was a small 537 vote difference between votes for Bush and votes for Gore. This ruling would determine the results of the election, because both candidates needed Florida to win. The final ruling was that the state’s electoral votes would go to Bush. The Supreme Court was split even then, with 4 justices voting in favor of awarding the electors to Gore and 5 voting in favor of awarding them to Bush. One justice’s decision determined the leader of America, and that justice was a moderate Republican and often a swing vote on the court. The court’s balance gave the country confidence that the decision was nonpartisan and consistent with the law. That decision would be more difficult to accept with the current imbalance. More recently, in October 2020, around 5.1 million voting-age U.S. citizens were restricted from voting in the presidential election because of felony convictions. If the court were to somehow expand restrictions so no felons could vote, then 24 million people with felony convictions would be stripped of their right to vote, almost 15% of the number of votes cast in the 2020 election.

Critics may say that court packing shouldn’t be necessary because justices are supposed to be nonpartisan. Packing the court is admitting that one of our most sacred and powerful systems has lost impartiality. Supreme Court cases and the obvious biases in important government officials’ views could be the least of our problems. An all conservative court is dangerous because any one specific view in government could trigger civil unrest. We need to pack the court to preserve some fairness in the federal government because either party controlling all branches would only cause more division. This is especially important since so many issues are so fragile at the moment, and there is major partisan strain on the government.