Here's what passes for a bright idea from a very dim collectivist bulb, and my email reply to him.
Obama should expand court
writes a weekly column on www.thecolumnists.com
This may come as a surprise to some people, but the U.S. Constitution does not specify the size of the Supreme Court.
The original Judiciary Act of 1789 set the number of justices at six. It shrank to five in 1801. It expanded to seven in 1807. It grew to nine in 1837 and 10 in 1863. It fell back to seven in 1866. It returned to nine in 1869 and has remained at that number since.
Political issues accounted for the changes. The Federalists reduced the number to five, hoping to deprive Thomas Jefferson of an appointment. The incoming Democrats repealed that measure, raising the number to seven. It went to nine in 1837 to give Andrew Jackson two more seats. Civil War issues led to more fluctuations before the court settled at nine under President Ulysses Grant.
So if nine justices is not writ in stone, the embattled President Obama should deal with this hostile conservative/reactionary court by adding three members.
The court's recent controversial decision equating corporations with individuals turned an already overly money-influenced campaign system into a veritable free-for-all of propaganda for corporate and vested interests. It was met with criticism by most legal scholars, praised only by corporate mouthpieces.
Even Barack "Can't We All Get Along?" Obama criticized the decision in his State of the Union speech. A lot of good that will do. The court has four hard-liners who are against what Obama strives for, and a so-called swing voter, Anthony Kennedy, who votes with them in the big cases.
As the court stands, it is reminiscent of the stonewall President Franklin Roosevelt faced in opposition to his New Deal legislation. Four entrenched reactionary justices, known as the "Four Horsemen," were not only anti-New Deal, but some demonstrated a personal dislike for FDR.
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."
In response, Roosevelt sought to appoint an additional justice for each incumbent justice who reached the age of 70 and refused retirement, with a maximum size of 15 justices. The phrase "packing the court" became the pejorative that turned the public against FDR's plan.
The actual plan wasn't pushed, however, because of changes on the court. Justice Owen Roberts - seemingly intimidated by popular approval of the New Deal - voted with liberals in a decision supporting Washington state's minimum-wage law. Roberts' change of heart was called "the switch in time that saved nine."
The ideological balance of the court was changed for good with the retirement of another Horseman, Willis Van Devanter, and the confirmation of liberal Hugo Black in August 1937.
Had Roosevelt needed his court-packing plan, he would have had to do a better job of winning over the public. Secrecy undermined the proposal, including the president's failure to bring Democratic leaders into his confidence before a news conference announcing the plan. Kentucky Sen. Alben Barkley complained that Roosevelt was a "poor quarterback" on the court plan.
That's an easy enough mistake for Obama to avoid. He can easily be a quarterback for change on a court that will give the president continued grief as he tries to implement his agenda.
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.
E-mail Stan Isaacs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sent: Sun, Feb 28, 2010 8:13 pm
Subject: You lack one thing on your Supreme Court proposal
You lack one thing on your Supreme Court proposal. Your mathematics are faulty. Your side does not have enough people or enough firearms to make such a naked power grab stick. On the other hand, the opposing side -- that is to say those of us of the armed citizenry already mobilized by other Obamanoid attacks on the Constitution and the rule of law -- well, we outnumber you by millions and we have plenty of arms and ammunition not only to overturn your attempt but to chase you and all your collectivist kind back to Europe where you will doubtless feel more comfortable among unarmed peasants.
Was that the kind of change you had in mind? Or, put another way:
Care for a long swim?
Be careful what you wish for, you may get it. The only law you should worry about at this point is the Law of Unintended Consequences.
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