Ruth Bader Ginsburg Comes Out Against Proposal Popular With 2020 Democrat Contenders

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
July 25, 2019Politics
Ruth Bader Ginsburg Comes Out Against Proposal Popular With 2020 Democrat Contenders
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85, in a Nov. 30, 2018 file photo. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg publicly announced her opposition to the popular proposal among Democratic presidential contenders to pack the nation’s highest court.

At least five presidential candidates have mulled proposals to pack the court, reported the Daily Caller: Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.); former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and Fort Wayne, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

The court-packing scheme has also been endorsed by radical Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

“Nine seems to be a good number. It’s been that way for a long time,” Ginsburg, 86, told NPR. “I think it was a bad idea when President Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the court.”

NTD Photo
Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during a news conference at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition Annual International Convention in Chicago, Tuesday, July 2, 2019. (Amr Alfiky/AP Photo)
Kamala Harris announces 2020 presidential run
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) speaks to reporters after announcing her candidacy for President of the United States, at Howard University, her alma mater, in Washington on Jan. 21, 2019. (Al Drago/Getty Images)

Roosevelt, a Democrat, tried expanding the Supreme Court to 15 members through the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill in 1937 so that he could make six additional nominations.

The bill was publicly opposed by Supreme Court justices and members of the public.

“Congress and the people viewed FDR’s ill-considered proposal as an undemocratic power grab,” Barbara Perry, director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, told the History Channel. “The chief justice (Charles Evans Hughes) testified before Congress that the Court was up to date in its work, countering Roosevelt’s stated purpose that the old justices needed help with their caseload.”

“It was never realistic that this plan would pass,” Perry added. “Roosevelt badly miscalculated reverence for the Court and its independence from an overreaching president.”

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President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882 – 1945) holds a stamp under a magnifying glass while seated at his desk with his stamp collection, Washington, DC, circa 1944. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer participates in taking a new family photo with his fellow justices at the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., on June 1, 2017. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo)

Still, it may have had an impact. According to the Federal Judicial Center, shortly after the plan was made public, the court “upheld several government regulations of the type it had formerly found unconstitutional.”

“Many have attributed this and similar decisions to a politically motivated change of heart on the part of Justice Owen Roberts, often referred to as ‘the switch in time that saved nine,'” the center stated.

A survey earlier this year found that 51 percent of respondents were opposed to adding justices to the Supreme Court. Justice Stephen Breyer, another left-leaning justice, said earlier this year that he was also opposed to packing the court. “I think nine is fine,” Breyer said.

Some Democrats have also said they’d like to remove the lifetime appointments for federal judges, which Ginsburg also opposes.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said during one of the Democratic debates that he doesn’t support packing the court. “But I do believe constitutionally we have the power to rotate judges to other courts and that brings in new blood into the Supreme Court,” he added.

Ginsburg noted to NPR that the U.S. Constitution mandates the life terms, adding: “Our Constitution is powerfully hard to amend.”

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