Hattie’s Hangout: The unanswered question, “Will you pack the court?”

A floating question tossed around at both the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates remains to be unanswered.

“Will your administration pack the court?”

The deafening silence coming from the Biden/Harris campaign seems to answer that question loud and clear: Yes.

No amount of awkward laughter can allow Kamala Harris to hide from the question that many are wondering will happen if former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Harris are elected to the Oval Office Nov. 3. 

What stands as the main issue with this unsettling question is the voters’ right to know if the candidate they plan to vote for will change the number of Supreme Court Justices and fill those seats with a living Constitution Pragmatist. One reason I believe to hold the most weight is the Biden/Harris campaign’s fear of voters’ responses to their unsaid answer. 

If Biden were to act on this plan, his administration would ultimately be able to manipulate the judicial court system into passing several rulings that strictly align with his parties’ values and nothing else. 

Since 1869, the U.S. Supreme Court has maintained its nine sitting justices whose job under the Constitution of the United States is to act as an interpreter of the law, ensuring that the people of this country are promised equal justice under the Constitution. Guardians of the Constitution, as I like to say.

However, in 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt took the first stab at trying to what is now called “packing the court” with his new plan that could have expanded the Supreme Court up to 15 justices in his effort to make the court more efficient. Roosevelt took this step in hopes to get his New Deal passed along quicker. Many critics caught onto Roosevelt’s schemes and voted against his plan in the House of Representatives, calling out his plan to pack and neutralize the court. 

In a fireside chat, Roosevelt tried to explain and make a case for increasing the amount of judges saying, “This plan of mine is not attacking of the court; it seeks to restore the court to its rightful and historic place in our system of constitutional government and to have it resume its high task of building anew on the Constitution ‘a system of living law.’ The court itself can best undo what the court has done.”

Many people, including the legislatures, recognized this to be a cover up for a President who desired more control in not just the executive branch of the government, but the judicial branch as well. 

If Biden/Harris were to take the presidency in November, many fear that they would try to enact the same schemes that FDR attempted over 80 years ago. 

The Constitution gives the lawful authority to the president in Article 2 section 2 clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution to appoint justices to the Supreme Court with the advice and consent of the Senate. However, manipulation of the law in an attempt to sway legislation into their own court remains to be seen, and I believe will be expected if Biden/Harris take the 2020 election. 

The true tragedy in all of this is the need to have a balance of court, for the Constitutional outlines for the judicial system to not have partisan justices that work to carry on the goals of their political party. 

What should be the most non-partisan institution of our government is now one of the most divided amongst party lines. 

The Judicial system acts as a way to review and ensure that legislation is following the Constitution, but more recently the highest judicial seats look to create their own legislation for the country instead of being a guardian of the Constitution. 

If the Biden/Harris presidency packs the court, I can guarantee that they will look for judges that will only guard their party’s ideology and not the American people.

Hattie Troutman is the Editor-in-chief. Follow her on Twitter at @hattrout.

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