Senate Democrats want the Supreme Court to ‘heal itself’

August 14, 2019

Ever since President Donald Trump added two conservatives to the bench, Democrats have complained that the Supreme Court is “corrupted” and in need of reform. Now, with election season kicking into gear, a group of Senate Democrats — including 2020 hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) — has warned the high court to “heal” or else face restructuring.

“The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it,” the Democrats wrote in a brief filed Monday, according to Fox News. “Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be ‘restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.'”

Democrats threaten Supreme Court

The Democrats’ strange threat came in a court brief in a case dealing with a New York City gun law, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. City of New York. The brief is signed by Sens. Gillibrand, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal, (D-CT), Mazie Hirono, (D-HI), and Richard Durbin (D-IL).

The case deals with a now-repealed New York City law that banned gun owners from taking their firearms to shooting ranges or homes outside city limits. New York City changed the law to get the case dropped, and now, Democrats are arguing that the litigants received everything they wanted through legislation and that their continued petition is part of an “industrial-strength influence campaign” to “expand the Second Amendment and thwart gun safety regulations.”

In the amicus brief Monday, the Democrats urged the Supreme Court to reject the petition to dispel the perception that the court is “motivated mainly by politics.” The brief goes on to blast the NRA and the conservative Federalist Society as shaping the court’s composition and outcomes.

“Out in the real world, Americans are murdered each day with firearms in classrooms or movie theaters or churches or city streets, and a generation of preschoolers is being trained in active-shooter survival drills,” the brief read. “In the cloistered confines of this Court, and notwithstanding the public imperatives of these massacres, the NRA and its allies brashly presume, in word and deed, that they have a friendly audience for their ‘project.'”

Liberal intimidation tactics

The Democrats went on to liken conservative influence on the court to a leprosy to be quarantined, arguing that “every single time, the corporate and Republican political interests prevailed” in “sensitive areas like voting rights, partisan gerrymandering, dark money, union power,” as well as “regulation of pollution, corporate liability,” and civil rights issues.

But if entertaining a case from an NRA backed group is “political” activity, then what does that make threatening to fundamentally change the Supreme Court because it isn’t reliably liberal? In plain English, the left is calling out “politics” on the court while endorsing a political project to secure permanent judicial power for themselves.

Indeed, ever since Trump solidified a conservative majority, several Democrats running for president have endorsed “court-packing,” including Gillibrand; Sens. Cory Booker (NJ), Elizabeth Warren (MA), and Kamala Harris (CA); and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

Joe Biden opposes reshaping the court’s structure, as does liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has said, “Nine seems to be a good number.”

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court hasn’t shifted that far to the right under Trump. Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch have occasionally sided with the liberals on the court, while Chief Justice John Roberts has prevented the conservative majority from voting like an ideological bloc; he shot down President Trump’s citizenship question last month.

Shifting the focus

For decades, Democrats wielded the Supreme Court like a cudgel to force their progressive agenda on the country through non-democratic means, but ever since Trump tilted the court to the right, they’ve changed their tune on “judicial activism.”

Now, Democrats are cautioning reform to “fix” the Supreme Court from the ailment that is damaging its integrity: conservatism.

“When you hear Democrats talking about expanding the Supreme Court…they are talking about making the [c]ourt more liberal,” wrote Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) of Democrats’ threats. “This has been a [d]ream of the [l]eft for decades. I will do everything in my power to ensure that dream is NEVER fulfilled!”

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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.