Imagine yourself in a heated varsity basketball rivalry in front of a packed house split equally between the two schools. Whenever the referees call, half the crowd applauds their approval. Other fans, meanwhile, think the refs are idiots and lob insults, swear words or worse.
If the important appeal is for Team A, Team B and their supporters are sure the solution is there. If the important appeal is for Team B, Team A and their supporters will claim they are being cheated.
Unfortunately, on a much larger and more important stage, this is how too many people have come to consider the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States. For too many Americans, the composition of the tribunal is fine as long as it rules the way you want it to. Otherwise, there is a request for change.
And that’s where we are today.
A 36-member panel called the Presidential Commission of the Supreme Court of the United States studied court reform and held hearings. A final report from the commission is expected to be presented to President Joe Biden in about a month.
The commission’s review was a campaign pledge Biden made under pressure from activists and Democrats to respond after the tribunal’s makeup shifted to the right under then-President Donald Trump. The panel is chaired by Bob Bauer, who served as a White House adviser to then-President Barack Obama, and Cristina Rodriguez, a Yale Law School professor who served in the office of Obama’s legal counsel.
While no one is sure what will happen in the commission’s final report, some progressives have called for term limits and demanded that Biden fill the court, adding judges to it to act as a bulwark against rights challenges. voting rights, abortion rights and civil liberties. .
We think any of these possible changes – the term limits or the packaging of the land – would be a terrible mistake.
Although there is nothing in the Constitution that dictates the number of judges – Congress initially set the size of the tribunal at six members – the number has been nine since 1869. And we would say that, overall, the number has worked well in the past. Over 150 years.
On the issue of court packaging, which then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried but failed to accomplish in the 1930s, a major concern would be to continue to tinker with Biden and his successors in the Oval Office. For example, if Biden was successful in securing an 11-judge extension with the current Democratic-controlled Senate, what would stop the next president – perhaps a Republican with a GOP Senate – from doing so? a tribunal of 15 members? Then another Democratic president who follows later could apply for a 19-member tribunal.
It’s easy to see that it could get out of hand pretty quickly.
We also oppose the term limits for US Supreme Court justices because we believe this would only make the court appear more, not less, political in the public eye. There would be even nastier confirmation fights, and such a move might even raise dangerous questions about some decisions.
J. Harvie Wilkinson III, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge for the 4th Circuit, recently told the Washington Post that it’s easy to imagine the strategic games in which limited-term judges can be tempted to engage, smuggling through such-and-such a precedent – or set it aside – before so-and-so leaves the bench.
Even when the committee has completed its work, any proposed change will face serious political winds with the midterm elections coming up in 2022. And headwinds or no headwinds, we maintain that the number of judges on the Court – nine – and his life appointments should not be changed. .
We continue to believe that the greatest opportunity to change the court should be – as has been the case for generations – at the polls. The composition of the High Court has certainly been an issue in presidential campaigns and, to a lesser extent, in the United States Senate for some time, and that should not change.
Express your wishes for the High Court by voting in presidential and senatorial elections, not by arbitrarily adding the number of judges or imposing term limits on them.
Articles in “Our Opinion” in the Bowling Green Daily News exclusively represent the majority opinion of the newspaper’s editorial board and do not necessarily reflect the views or beliefs of other Daily News employees.