Liberal Fantasies About Obama Packing the Supreme Court


Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Stan Isaacs says President Barack Obama should pack the Supreme Court with three new justices in retaliation for the recent free speech ruling in Citizens United v. F.E.C.:

Obama can give himself a fighting chance by changing the rules of the game, just as they were changed for other presidents in the 1800s. He should forget bipartisanship and work with congressional Democrats to name three new justices to the court to meet the challenges he faces.

It would be a tumultuous fight, but it would be for a change we could believe in.

This is really silly. As SCOTUSblog's Tom Goldstein pointed out last week, progressives are almost certain to be disappointed this summer when Obama replaces Justice John Paul Stevens with Solicitor General Elena Kagan or some other highly confirmable nominee able to attract bipartisan support. In other words, don't hold your breathe for Obama to expend any political capital by nominating a "Scalia of the left." As for packing the Court with three new justices who will defer to the progressive agenda, who actually thinks the fallout from that brutal fight would help Obama? If the president isn't willing to go to bat for one highly politicized nominee, why in the world would he do so for three?

And following Stan Isaacs' logic, why shouldn't every president "give himself a fighting chance by changing the rules of the game" and appointing a few judicial toadies? What a wonderful precedent of ever-expanding executive power that would set.

On a factual note, Stan Isaacs might want to do a little more Google research before composing his next piece of legal scholarship. Contrary to Isaacs' claim that "The actual plan wasn't pushed, however, because of changes on the court," the truth is that FDR did push the actual plan, but it met with fierce bipartisan opposition and died a welcome death in the Senate, due in part to the deft maneuvering of progressive Democratic Sen. Burton Wheeler of Montana (more on Wheeler and FDR's other principled liberal opponents here).

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  1. At least it’s better than Jeffrey Rosen’s take that Obama should nominate himself to SCOTUS. Obama can’t even follow though on his own promises. How would he ever follow precedent?

  2. Again, the Constitution does not set a minimum or maximum limit on the number of Supreme Court Justices. Nor does it specify that the President cannot also sit on the Supreme Court.

    Personally, I think Obama ought to reduce the number of Supreme Court Justices to one, appoint himself as The Justice of the Supreme Court, and continue in his capacity as President.

    It only makes sense that the Light-Worker would also be the Sun King.

    1. Was it a dream where you see yourself standing in sort of sun-god robes on a pyramid with a thousand naked women screaming and throwing little pickles at you?

      1. Such a great movie.

        Lazlo rules.(Yeah, I know that was a Chris Knight quote.)

      2. Get out of my mind!

        1. Why am I the only one who has that dream?

    2. You can’t remove SCOTUS justices from office, so the only way to reduce the number of justices is to have them die or retire and not replace them.

  3. “don’t hold your breathe for Obama to expend any political capital”

    He has none.

  4. Unless Obama wants every last democrat to lose their seat come 2012, he has to pick a SCOTUS judge that will get at least some bipartisan support.

    It won’t do him any good to pack a supreme court if the resulting electoral outcomes destroy any advantage a packed court may have offered.

  5. For the commenters that have been here longer than I have:

    Have you ever seen such a hissy fit thrown by a political party and its supporters before? Some of the things these writers and people are saying and wanting to have done are worse than the most base fanfic I’ve ever read. There hero is stalled on his epic quest and they lose what little mental capacity they have left.

    Was it this bad during the early years of W? I wasn’t around then.

    1. Yes.

    2. By this time in Dubya’s term, lefties were still quietly nursing their “Selected not elected” thoughts until the 9/11 rallying would go away.

    3. It’s pretty bad. Certain lines have been crossed that had never been crossed before (the bailouts) and that changed things; it emboldened certain people that things that were inconceivable before were now possible.

      1. Sure does seem like more people are openly socialistic than before.

        1. My buddy’s wife admitted to being a socialist so I reached across the table and took half her fries. She looked at me frightened and aghast. I said, “but I didn’t have any fries.”

          1. That doesn’t make you a socialist, it makes you a thief. Socialism requires you to pay in.

            1. Throw the bitch a nickel, give her one fry back and tell her to be thankful that society wasn’t owed more.

            2. The Havenots don’t pay in, dipshit.

      2. I think the current bailouts are larger and wider in scope, but Bush Sr. brought us a Savings and Loan bailout during his term.

        1. Oh, yeah, they need to burn, too.

        2. That cost something like three hundred billion on a one shot deal. And it resulted in banks actually closing down and crooks going to jail. TARP in contrast costs in the trillions, hasn’t resulted in one bank being shut down and has given the people responsible for the mess bonuses rather than indictments.

          1. John McCain’s grubby little prints were all over that one too.

      3. Certain lines have been crossed, so the right has license to act the way they are. Is that what I’m hearing? And previous presidents crossed no lines.

        We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

        1. I think the point is that government has now asserted so much control over the economy that the left feels emboldened to push harder for extreme socialist measures.

    4. It is the result of rising expectations. The vast majority of the country thought Obama was being elected because the Republicans were a spent force who only fucked things up when they were not stealing. Liberals thought Obama won because the country loved them and had embraced far left policies. They thought it was 1932 only this time they were starting from a point way further left than then. And that this election was going to transform America into a socialist one party state. That is what they thought. And now that that is not happening and they aren’t getting the pony they thought they were, they are really, really angry. More angry than they were when they were out of power. At least then they could fantasize about being in power. Now, what do they have left?

      1. Clearly, the opposition needs to be purged altogether.

        1. That is what they would like to do. Seriously, if you honestly thought the crazy shit that people like Frank Rich and Thomas Frank think about the opposition, wouldn’t putting people in camps be a reasonable option?

      2. Most liberals believed electing Obama was a rebuke to the imbeciles tossing around his middle name as though it alone was a disqualifier for the office. I know no one who believed it was due to middle America embracing politics that might actually serve their best interests. We know that “real Americans” have very little taste for liberalism. Hannity has you guys believing some pretty far out shit.

        1. Are you lying or were you in a coma for the year 2008? Obama was supposed to be the Liberal Reagan, a transformational President who changed the entire landscape of American politics. As liberal you have now been told to blot out the whole “hope and change” and “this is our time” crap. But those of us in the real world just remember history. We don’t re-write it.

          And it is a good thing that you are an ignorant, arrogant fuck or anything. Maybe middle America knows a little bit more about what is in their best interests than douchebags like you.

          1. Yes, I understand what you’ve been told liberals believed about Obama. But you’re wrong.

            1. I don’t write the newspapers. I just read them.

              1. The New York Post, The Washington Times, The Washington Examiner, etc. Am I right?

            2. That’s an impressive memory hole ya got there. Mind if I give it a spin?

        2. And judging by your dumb ass name, you are new here. But I have a newsflash for you. No one here watches Hanity. And no one, not even the house liberal trolls, thinks you are in any way interesting for saying dumb shit like that. So, if you want to talk to the big kids, you need to learn to put up a better effort than that.

          1. I assume this means you are a grown up.

    5. Have you ever seen such a hissy fit thrown by a political party and its supporters before? Some of the things these writers and people are saying and wanting to have done are worse than the most base fanfic I’ve ever read. There hero is stalled on his epic quest and they lose what little mental capacity they have left.

      They refuse to consider the longp-term consequences.

      Neither President Clinton nor both Presidents Bush considered court-packing, for the very reason that someone of a different political persuasion might use it.

      1. Such lies. Do you people have even the slightest understanding of history? The only way to get a conservative judge on the supreme court is to look into his politics. The way to get a liberal judge is to look into his qualifications. Reality has a well known liberal bias.

        1. Yeah because John Roberts was so much less qualified than a giant like Sotomayor. And people like Richard Epstein and Robert Bork are just partisan hacks with no intellectual credibility at all.

          Seriously, are so delusional that you think that no one who disagrees with you is qualified to sit on the Court?

          1. A judge can be qualified and partisan at the same time. Roberts is a supremely qualified judge. A partisan piece of shit who doesn’t deserve the appointment, but very qualified.

            1. Again, everyone who disagrees with you is a “partisan piece of shit”. And everyone who agrees with you is a wonderful impartial judge. Seriously, do you really lack self awareness that much?

              1. Which judges skew liberal with every judgment? Let’s draw some lines here.

                1. Lots of them do. That is why they are liberals. But, unlike you I can actually understand that people can sincerely disagree with me. That makes people like Cass Sunstein and Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrong but not nefarious.

            2. you are an awesome troll. please stay.

              1. Thank you. It’s gotten pretty monotonously freeper-like in here lately.

              2. It’s either Chad, Tony, or MNG trolling under another name.

                I do wish that Reason would implement some kind of modern registration system.

                1. My name is Tony, but I don’t usually post here. No alt. I used to learn a lot by reading the comments here, even in fairly boring and straightforward articles like this one, but lately it’s been all wharrgarbl, all the time. Some of these commenters actually believe that Obama is going to change the number of SCOTUS judges in an attempt to enact socialist reforms. All I can learn from that is how unhinged the right is becoming.

                  1. Tony,

                    It was a left wing journalist who suggested the idea. That is what the post is about.

                2. I do wish that Reason would implement some kind of modern registration system.

                  Go fuck yourself

                3. Why are you so interested in control? Why not make H&R a paid service, that’ll really keep people you don’t like away.

  6. It is silly, but I say it’s also a little scary.

    I would expect something like this from the Huffington Post or the Daily Worker, but this is right from the heart of the mainstream media. The Philadelphia Inquirer is one of the oldest and most respected daily news publications in the country, and they’re openly calling for the president to move in the direction of a dictator and to breach the separation of powers.

    Seriously, think about that for a moment or two.

  7. “Justice James McReynolds reportedly stated in response to rumors that he would step down, “I’ll never retire as long as that crippled son of a bitch is still in the White House.””

    Well at least he never shook his head and quietly mouthed disagreement at a speech! That would have been truly horrendous!

  8. Even Barack “Can’t We All Get Along?” Obama criticized the decision in his State of the Union speech.


  9. Dammit, I cannot resist any longer…

    Liberal Fantasies About Obama Fudge Packing the Supreme Court

    There, FIFY

    1. So wrong, yet so satisfying.

      1. I know, it’s true

    2. That popped into my head too.

      1. Bet you’re glad it didn’t pop into anything else.

    3. Ah, I was wondering how long it would take you guys to find a way to turn this into a homo-erotic insult. Can you work in something about liberals performing fellatio on the president? That always helps.

      1. Do you ever punch a tape recorder on, and listen to yourself, OtF?

      2. How long do we have to wait for you to finish?

    4. I was just about to remark on this.

  10. The lefties have to do something about Citizens United right now because if they wait for a couple of elections, then people will realize the world didn’t end and move on.

  11. If Obama can pack the court, why couldn’t a Republican President in 2013 add his own four justices to outweigh Obama’s three? Eventually we would end up with hundreds of Supreme Court justices. That is a great idea on how to maintain the separation of powers.

    Liberals are not so stupid as much as they are just craven. These assholes really think it is okay for Obama to do such a thing but horrible if anyone else does it.

    1. Liberals are not so stupid as much as they are just craven. These assholes really think it is okay for Obama to do such a thing but horrible if anyone else does it.

      It ain’t just liberals.

      1. Bullshit. The Republicans used reconciliation for tax and spending issues. That is what it is supposed to be used for. It is not that reconciliation is illegitimate. It is that it is illegitimate to use for substantive law.

        The Republicans actually thought about using it for ANWR. And they were thwarted because it was against the rules. Michael Barone explained this.

        All of which reminds me of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens’ attempt to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 2005. Stevens got it in the reconciliation process in the Senate, where it had 51 but not 60 votes. But House Republicans couldn’t get it into reconciliation, even though a majority of House members were for it. The Senate could pass it by reconciliation but not regular order; the House could pass it by regular order but not reconciliation. Result: It never passed.

        There are two differences here. ANWR drilling would have little effect on most Americans. The health care bill would affect almost everybody — by raising taxes, cutting Medicare spending, abolishing current insurance — as Republicans pointed out in Blair House.

        The second difference is that ANWR drilling was reasonably popular with the public and there were majorities in both houses for it. Neither is true of the Democrats’ health care bills today.

        Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer……z0gxBkfxr0

        1. “The Republicans used reconciliation for tax and spending issues.”

          Aren’t they all tax and spending issues? Maybe reconciliation has never been used for such a large initiative, but it has been used for smaller health care expansions before.

          1. And a difference in quantity never becomes a difference in kind? Seriously, do you think it would have been okay for the Republicans to say privatize social security via a majority vote in the Senate without a single Democratic vote?

            1. My point is that it is the size of the issue, not the class of the issue.

        2. The minority compains about parliamentary maneuvers used by the majority and vice versa.

          It has always been such. Such it will always be.

          It has not a goddam thing to do with team red/team blue.

          1. If reconcilliation is the proper way to do something like health care, when why wasn’t it proper for ANWR? Sometimes one side really is wrong. That is hard for the pox on both houses types to admit. But occasionally it does happen.

          2. The minority complains about parliamentary maneuvers used by the majority and vice versa.

            It has always been such. Such it will always be.

            Indeed, but I’m not sure what reconciliation has to do with the idea that the president can pack the Supreme Court with as many cronies as he needs to make it a rubber stamp.

            Furthermore, I have never in my life heard any mainstream republican or media outlet suggest that a republican president has the right to attempt such a thing. If you have an example of such, I would love to see it.

    2. If Obama can pack the court, why couldn’t a Republican President in 2013 add his own four justices to outweigh Obama’s three?

      Because the Obama-packed Court would rule the election of a Republican an unconstitutional violation of various penumbras and emanations of the Bill of Rights. There accordingly would be no Republican President to counter-pack the court.

    3. Actually, only Congress can increase the number of justices, not the President. So if the Republican came into office without Republican majorities in both houses, it wouldn’t be possible.

  12. With Obama on the court, liberals will finally complete the redefining of activist to mean striking down favored progressive legislation.

    Activism means reading something into the Constitution that it does not explicitly state, inventing a right from that reading, and using that invention to strike down or uphold laws that are normally unconstitutional. Using the liberal definition, however, the court would be activist in striking down a law authorizing a national thought police.

  13. All of the comments to this op-ed I read on the Inquirer are along the lines of “Damn you’re an idiot! Do they pay you to write this drivel?”

  14. Query:

    If you can pack the Court, can you un-pack it? When a Justice retires, just say “Fuck it. There’s too many of ’em anyway, especially since most of ’em can’t seem to locate a copy of the Constitution. I’m not appointing a replacement.”

    Imagine the hijinx.

    1. I don’t see why not, but your successor would be able to immediately appoint someone unless Congress agrees to reduce the number. Also, unless you do this more than once, you’re going to have an even number of justices which will create all manner of chaos.

      1. By chaos, you mean “fun”, right? They have should have the two sides pick a champion and duel for it. If it’s a duel to death, it resolves future ties as well (of course, if they use duels as tiebreakers, some joker on the Court might decide to abstain on close votes.)

  15. It is not that the idea behind this is in any way doable, but the fact variations of this type of nonsense thinking has been a common and inexplicable outburst from the left to the very well reasoned Citizens United case. Their reaction has been comically disproportionate to the ‘crime’ when compared to the malfeasance of TARP and porkulus which generally had their support.

    I was of that tribe once, but don’t ask me where their thinking is coming from these days. Probably effected by a microbe you can only get from cannibalism.

  16. The Supreme Court has 9 Justices… that’s the way it is. Just because something isn’t written down in stone doesn’t mean you have the right to break tradition, especially tradition that is over 150 years old.

  17. The liberal reaction to the Citizen United case is pretty amusing.

    They have had decades of liberal judges dreaming up nonsense nowhere found in the Constition and now we have one decision that actually is based on the actualy language of the document and they all behave like spoiled brat two year olds throwing temper tamtrums becauase they didn’t get their way.

  18. This article was from a couple of weeks ago, but I wonder if any doubters might want to rethink their dismissal of this idea. Obama now has to contend with legal action against the health care bill, which will likely wind up in the Supreme Court. Many dem’s are already screwed come November for their health care vote, so why not go for broke and pack the court? Is it really that far fetched based on what we’ve seen and heard over the last 2 weeks?

  19. truth,,,,obama people have no idea of the extent to which they have to be gulled in order to be led.”
    “The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell a big one.”
    “All propaganda must be so popular and on such an intellectual level, that even the most stupid of those towards whom it is directed will understand it. Therefore, the intellectual level of the propaganda must be lower the larger the number of people who are to be influenced by it.”
    “Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.”pelosi don’t see much future for the Americans … it’s a decayed country. And they have their racial problem, and the problem of social inequalities …obama feelings against Americanism are feelings of hatred and deep repugnance … everything about the behaviour of American society reveals that it’s half Judaised, and the other half negrified. How can one expect a State like that to hold TOGTHER.They include the angry left wing bloggers who spread vicious lies and half-truths about their political adversaries… Those lies are then repeated by the duplicitous left wing media outlets who “discuss” the nonsense on air as if it has merit? The media’s justification is apparently “because it’s out there”, truth be damned. STOP THIS COMMUNIST OBAMA ,GOD HELP US ALL .THE COMMANDER ((GOD OPEN YOUR EYES)) stop the communist obama & pelosi.((open you eyes)) ,the commander

  20. As opposed to the right wing media who seem determined to shut down intelligent debate by simply calling anyone who does not agree with them names?

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