Opinion Make the Supreme Court lots bigger. It's not a priesthood, it should represent America.
Supreme Court weighs entering gun debate amid calls for stricter rules
With the Supreme Court now boasting a 6-3 conservative majority, the question has become which case involving gun rights the justices are likely to take up.But amid the public outcry over gun violence, the Supreme Court's nine members are meeting behind closed doors to discuss whether to add to next term's docket disputes over gun regulations, with a ruling from the justices potentially having far-reaching implications for firearms restrictions at the federal and state levels.
Democrats –– or at least, Democrat-supporting law professors –– have a new plan: First, win control of the presidency and Congress in 2020. Then, as proposed by Harvard’s Ian Samuels,to the Supreme Court, taking the court to a total of 15 justices.
That will outweigh any justices Trump is able to appoint between now and then, even if he gets a couple of additional opportunities. The result will be a Supreme Court firmly in left-leaning hands for a generation.
What could go wrong?
Fact check: Justice Clarence Thomas didn't say Section 230 is unconstitutional
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas did not say Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is unconstitutional in a recent concurring opinion.In a 12-page concurring opinion on the court’s dismissal of a case alleging then-President Donald Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking Twitter users, Thomas wrote of the “enormous control over speech” that large social media platforms hold. He compared them to communications utilities regulated by the government.
Well, a few things. As George Mason Law’s Adam White notes, “Literally the safest way (to) guarantee Trump’s re-election is to start announcing that the next Democratic president will pack the court with six new Dem-filled seats. These professors might as well start. They’re doing Steve Bannon’s job for him.”
There’s also the problem that, since the Constitution , once the fairly longstanding tradition of nine justices is broken, the next time the GOP finds itself in power it could just raise the ante again.
As University of Chicago law professor Todd Henderson remarks: “ Why doesn’t it immediately unravel to a court of, say, 1001 justices? I’ll wait.”
Techies give an old fashioned Supreme Court decent marks in coding case
Programmers say the Supreme Court, often teased for its ambivalence toward technology, got it (mostly) right in describing some nuances of software.Often teased for their ambivalence toward technology – Chief Justice John Roberts once asked a lawyer in 2010 to explain the difference between an email and a pager – the justices this week were forced to grapple with complicated programming concepts in a multi-billion-dollar copyright dispute between tech giants Google and Oracle.
We need more justices, less mystique
But let me make an unorthodox suggestion: Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad. OK, 1,001 justices might be too many, but perhaps we should substantially expand the Supreme Court. After all, if the country can be thrown into a swivet by the retirement of a single 81-year-old man, it suggests that the Supreme Court has become too important, and too sensitive to small changes, to play its role constructively as it’s currently made up.
Increasing the number of justices would reduce the importance of any single retirement or appointment. And it would also reduce the mystique of the court, which I see as a feature, not a bug. Nine justices could seem like a special priesthood; two or three times that number looks more like a legislature, and those get less respect. Which would be fair.
The Supreme Court, after all, isn’t made up of Platonic guardians. It’s made up of lawyers. If you asked Americans at random what kind of people they think are best suited to provide moral leadership, I rather doubt that lawyers would rank high on the list. The Supreme Court isn’t really some sacred body of great moral thinkers. Rather, as one of my constitutional law professors pointed out, it’s essentially a committee, a committee made up of lawyers. Underneath the robes and fancy building, that’s all it is.
Supreme Court halts California coronavirus rules that limit home worship
This is the latest case in which the high court has barred officials from enforcing coronavirus-related restrictions applying to religious gatherings.The 5-4 unsigned opinion, published just before midnight on Friday, highlighted the deep divisions over the issue, with Chief Justice John Roberts siding with three liberals who dissented. The court also noted that this was the fifth time it had overturned the California-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in similar cases.
Nonetheless, we’ve come to a place where the Supreme Court doesn’t just decide technical legal issues, but is called on to decide some of our most pressing moral and social questions. If the court is going to remain in that role, then it needs to be more representative of America as a whole, and less sensitive to minor changes that produce major shifts in its decisions. (And the near-universal belief that replacing Anthony Kennedy with a conservative will produce such a major shift is also an admission that the Supreme Court today isn’t about legal rigor or but essentially about politics.)
End the Harvard-Yale monopoly
So forget 15 justices. Let’s keep the nine we have who are appointed by the president, and add one from each state, to be appointed by governors, and then confirmed by the Senate. Fifty-nine justices is enough to ensure (I hope) that they aren’t all from Harvard and Yale as is the case now, and enough to limit the mystique of any particular justice. If the Supreme Court is going to function, as it does, like a super-legislature, it might as well be legislature-sized.
Three Supreme Court justices tackle U.S. partisan divisions in public remarks
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer addressed a virtual conference Wednesday, avoiding speculation about whether he plans to retire this year.Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, making his second public address in as many weeks, brushed aside divisive political rancor in Washington and discussed how the justices work through ideological differences to build majorities in controversial cases.
Making the Supreme Court less sensitive to shifts in the political winds would also benefit presidential and senatorial elections. Right now, they turn significantly on who will be appointed and confirmed to the Supreme Court. If that’s less of an issue, then voters can evaluate candidates on how they’re likely to do their own jobs, rather than who they’ll support for a different one.
Is a mega-Supreme Court an idea whose time has come? If so, we can thank those who put the issue on the table.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor and the author of "," is a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors. Follow him on Twitter: .
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Opinion: What packing the Supreme Court would really do .
Elizabeth Slattery writes that adding justices to the US Supreme Court would not fix the perception of a politicized court -- just the opposite, it would worsen the problem.US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer recently offered some advice to the proponents of court packing: think long and hard about the consequences.