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Packing the Court vs. Fixing the Court
After Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, some elements within the Democratic Party are urging Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to pledge to "pack the court" due to President Donald Trump putting forward Amy Coney Barrett as the nominee to replace Ginsburg. Packing the court refers to the idea that the Supreme Court has no set number of justices established for it in the U.S. Constitution and so it could be increased and then Biden, assuming he becomes President, could nominate left-wing judges to those new seats and change the ideological makeup of the Supreme Court without having to wait for justices to vacate their seats.
Biden has refused to openly endorse this idea himself, but he has also refused to reject it as well. In the first debate with Trump he was asked whether he would pack the court and openly admitted that he would not answer that question because his answer would become an issue, which seems like a strange reason not to answer a question when you're running to be President of the United States.
Regardless, Trump and Republicans should run their campaigns as if Biden were almost certainly going to pack the court, and run on a platform of passing a constitutional amendment to fix the court at what has become the traditional number of nine justices.
The Supreme Court has become a huge issue in presidential politics, certainly no less so in this election cycle, and it seems to me that Republicans would want to have a stronger position to campaign from than simply: "Look at these crazy Democrats and what they want to do to the Supreme Court if you don't vote for us!" Campaigning on a constitutional amendment would not only benefit Trump in his reelection bid, I think, but also Republicans running for Senate and House seats because they'd need to keep the Senate, and probably increase their seats there, and pick up the House to have a realistic shot at passing a constitutional amendment. This would give all those candidates running for Congressional seats a potential boost.
Passing an amendment, of course, is a difficult and very unlikely scenario, even if Republicans were to pick up the House, which is itself unlikely, but the good news for them is that they probably don't want to pass such an amendment in the first place. So they could reap the benefits, such as they are, of campaigning on the issue without the realistic possibility of being able to follow through on it regardless of whether they want to or not.
On a recent episode of the Tom Woods Show, historian Kevin Gutzman was discussing how he wouldn't mind if Democrats pack the court, then Republicans pack the court, and on and on ad infinitum because it would make it obvious how ridiculous and political the court has become. I'm definitely sympathetic to this argument and see the value in delegitimizing any aspect of the federal government. But while I don't care about the electoral fortunes of the Republican Party in general or Trump in particular, I can't understand why they're not trying to run on this obvious response to packing the court from a strategic point of view.
Packing the court isn't a popular notion in general, but it is being put forward by an increasing amount of Democrats due to their hatred of Trump and it seems to me the more they talk about it the more the average voter will become comfortable with it. Now is the time for Republicans to have a forceful response to what is a genuinely extreme idea coming out of certain parts of the Democratic Party, and one that their presidential nominee is afraid to explicitly denounce.