Dictionary.com finds itself under fire on social media over a recent adjustment of its definition of “court packing,” not that the online dictionary site was deterred, hitting back to defend its actions.
“Language evolves. So do we,” a tweet from its official Twitter account stated.
As National Review‘s David Harsanyi noted, “sometime between November 1 and December 1, 2020,, whose ‘proprietary source is the Random House Unabridged Dictionary,’ changed the meaning of the phrase.”
The change was an addition that reads: “the practice of changing the number or composition of judges on a court, making it more favorable to particular goals or ideologies, and typically involving an increase in the number of seats on the court: Court packing can tip the balance of the Supreme Court toward the right or left.”
The original definition, which centered on President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s efforts to add justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, was bumped to the secondary definition.
This coming after the appointment of Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, giving the court an alleged 6-3 conservative swing — although Chief Justice John Roberts, supposedly one of the six conservatives, has a growing habit of siding with the court’s liberal faction.
Dictionary.com responded to a tweet from J.D. Graham, who called attention to the change, suggesting it was evolution.
Language evolves. So do we.
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) December 8, 2020
With Democrats vowing to expand the number of jurists on the high Court under a Biden administration, should they gain control of the Senate — the Constitution does not fix the number of justices permitted on the Supreme Court — the left has taken to redefining what court packing means.
Case in point, Rutgers Law School professor David Noll offered his take on what it means to pack the court:
“People often use ‘court packing’ to describe changes to the size of the Supreme Court, but it’s better understood as any effort to manipulate the Court’s membership for partisan ends. A political party that’s engaged in court packing will usually violate norms that govern who is appointed (e.g., only appoint jurists who respect precedent) and how the appointment process works (e.g., no appointments during a presidential election).
“Seen from this perspective, the Barrett appointment is classic court packing.”
To his credit, Noll did add that if Democrats “respond to the Barrett appointment by expanding the size of the Court, the immediate effect will be to further diminish the Court’s standing and make it hard for anyone to take the Supreme Court seriously.”
As Harsanyi stated, court-packing remains “a politically toxic phrase.”
However, as RNC Rapid Response Director Steve Guest tweeted, “Filling vacancies is not court packing.”
REMINDER: FILLING VACANCIES IS NOT COURT PACKING!
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) December 8, 2020
Here’s a sampling of responses to the story from Twitter:
The dictionary actually CHANGING the definition of "court-packing" to fit Democrats little gas-lighting game after the Barrett confirmation is genuinely disturbing. https://t.co/vBsXuF6OXT
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) December 8, 2020
Is that how you dictionary? https://t.co/nLgR5L1VEn
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) December 8, 2020
It doesn't generally evolve overnight under orders from a political party. https://t.co/bC1gkXwkRe
— Derek Hunter (@derekahunter) December 8, 2020
They’re still pretending that “packed the courts” means something totally different than what it actually means. https://t.co/JRvFFQL4EB
— Noam Blum (@neontaster) December 8, 2020
Bullshit! The only reason language/definitions have changing recently is to please one political party. Words used to mean things and not change to please one politcal parties positions.
— Joe (@JoeC1776) December 8, 2020
It didn’t “evolve.” You introduced a fundamental change in the meaning to further a political goal. It does not “typically involve” changing the number of seats. Changing the number of seats is a fundamental requirement of court packing.
— tim maguire (@timmaguire42) December 9, 2020
Evolution is a natural consequence, occurring over prolonged periods of time; what you did is called “redefining.”
I’m sure there’s a book somewhere you can look it up in…
— Daniel Short (@danieltshort) December 9, 2020
Adding judges vs filling vacancies is a huge difference… not equivalent in any way, shape, or form and it’s ridiculous to argue otherwise
— Chris ⓘ 𝚃𝚑𝚒𝚜 𝙽𝚊𝚖𝚎 𝚒𝚜 𝚍𝚒𝚜𝚙𝚞𝚝𝚎𝚍 (@CHConservative1) December 9, 2020
when leaders abuse language it’s because they want to abuse power. the left has been redefining language for this very purpose
— Michelle oh (@mkohlrogge) December 9, 2020
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