Dems’ court-packing ideas not popular with their voters who say Trump should fill any 2020 vacancy

(File photo from U.S. Supreme Court)

Results from a recently published Marquette University Law School poll bode poorly for Democrats who support packing the Supreme Court, who argue that the current court is highly partisan to the right, and who believe President Donald Trump should be barred from filling any vacancies that may arise in 2020.

Regarding court-packing – an idea embraced by the likes of everybody from former Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder to half of the Democrat presidential candidates running for office – a 56 percent majority of Americans oppose it.

Regarding partisanship, an even higher 64 percent majority of Americans “say justices base their decisions primarily on the law” versus politics, according to Marquette.

This may shock Democrats and their allies in the media:

It’s these same concerns about alleged partisanship in the current high court — partisanship that a majority of Americans appear to believe doesn’t exist — that’s led Democrats to push for packing the Supreme Court.

The irony is that if partisanship does perhaps exist in the court, it’s most likely left-wing partisanship, according to Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute.

“There were 67 decisions after arguments in the term that ended in June,” she wrote last month. “In those cases, the four justices appointed by Democratic presidents voted the same way 51 times, while the five Republican appointees held tight 37 times.”

“And of the 20 cases where the court split 5-4, only seven had the ‘expected’ ideological divide of conservatives over liberals. By the end of the term, each conservative justice had joined the liberals as the deciding vote at least once.”

Regarding the president potentially nominating a SCOTUS justice in 2020, an even higher 69 percent majority of all Americans — including 72 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of Independents and surprising 63 percent of Democrats — believe Congress should respond by holding hearings.

Combined, these results appear to suggest that the public’s perspective on the Supreme Court differs wildly from that of the Democrat Party.

The publication of these results comes amid a glaring push by some Democrats — including half of those aspiring to be America’s next president — to essentially redesign the Supreme Court from top to bottom.

“It’s not just about expansion, it’s about depoliticizing the Supreme Court,” top Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren said in favor of court-packing during a primary debate earlier this month.

Openly gay candidate Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, chimed in as well:

“Pete Buttigieg was the first candidate in this race to run on structural reforms like expanding the size of the Supreme Court,” a spokesperson for his campaign added in an emailed statement to NPR. “Pete knows that we are living in a moment that requires a candidate to have a platform that’s more than just replacing the president that’s in this White House.”

“We need reforms that will make a real difference now and through the next era. That’s why Pete has made democratic reforms a central part of his platform from the start of his campaign. He has called for increasing the number of Supreme Court justices from nine to 15 with five of those being apolitical justices picked by the first 10.”

Other candidates such as socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders oppose court-packing, but only because they prefer using term limits to “rotate” justices instead.

“Bernie believes we need structural court reform that ensures our laws are responsive to democracy. Bernie believes we can constitutionally rotate Supreme Court justices down to lower courts after set term limits to bring new justices to the Supreme Court more often,” the senator’s campaign said in an emailed statement to NPR.

On this issue, Democrats do stand with the American people, given as Marquette found that a 72 percent majority of Americans support term limits for Supreme Court justices. This includes 69 percent of Republicans, 72 percent of Independents and 75 percent of Democrats.

View the full poll results below:

While it’s not clear how the president feels about term limits for the high court, he has definitely expressed interest in instituting term limits for Congress.

One troubling finding from Marquette is that a 57 majority of Americans believe Supreme Court justices ought to reach decisions based on an “evolution” of the U.S. Constitution versus its original text and meaning.

However, these findings were highly political in nature.

“Party and ideology are only weakly related to views of the basis of decisions, with the exception of views that decisions should be based on original meaning or an evolving meaning,” the findings read. “On this original vs. evolving meaning, both party and ideology have substantial effects, and those effects increase as knowledge rises.”

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Vivek Saxena

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