President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in on January 20, 2021. Many on the left have called for Biden to work to expand the Supreme Court. However, that is a terrible idea that will delegitimize the court and the entire process of judicial review.
In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to add more Justices to the Court but was rebuffed in his attempt by the Democratic-controlled Senate. The Senate was correct to reject court-packing in 1937 and would be wise to do the same regarding any future attempts to pack the court. The biggest problem with court-packing is that the Supreme Court would become a tit-for-tat system, expanded every time the President and the Senate belong to the same political party. For example, if the Democrats add two Justices to the court, the Republicans can respond by adding three Justices to the court next time they’re in control. This would create a never-ending cycle in which the Supreme Court is continuously expanded and made more and more partisan.
Gone would be the days where the Supreme Court was independent of the Executive Branch; instead, it would be submissive to Washington’s political parties. As Democratic Senator Burton Wheeler stated during Roosevelt’s administration, court-packing would “create now a political court to echo the ideas of the Executive and… a weapon that can cut down those guaranties of liberty written into your great document by the blood of your forefathers and that can extinguish your right of liberty, of speech, of thought, of action, and of religion. A weapon whose use is only dictated by the conscience of the wielder.”
Court-packing would eliminate the entire judicial review process as established in the case of Marbury v. Madison in 1803. Before Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, the Court had a 5-4 conservative majority, but through judicial review, many actions of the Trump Administration were struck down, such as Trump’s attacks on the United States Census and DACA. Packing the Supreme Court would potentially allow a President of the United States to dismantle fundamental American ideals such as separation of powers and civil liberties. The highest court cannot remain a credible body, much less the head of a separate government branch, if it is transformed into an easily manipulated toy of the Executive Branch.