Former Attorney General Eric Holder wants Democrats to use their newfound power to pack the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary with ideologically liberal justices.
What's the background?
Former President Donald Trump made a generational difference in the federal judiciary: Of those judges Trump nominated, the Senate confirmed 174 to federal district courts, 54 to appellate courts, and three to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Democrats, aware of Trump's judicial legacy, were in an uproar last year following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Ever since then, Democrats have made public declarations that they need to "pack the courts" with ideologically liberal justices if they want to regain judicial influence.
These calls, which have even come from scores of Democratic lawmakers, advocate for ideological court-packing, which includes expanding the size of the Supreme Court.
What did Holder say?
Now that Democrats control the White House with President Joe Biden, control the House, and have effective control over the Senate, Holder demanded on Monday that Democrats leverage their power to counteract Trump's judicial legacy.
"It is painfully clear Democrats and progressives are uncomfortable with the acquisition and use of power, while Republicans and conservatives never have been," Holder said during a virtual conference hosted by the Brookings Institution, the Washington Times reported.
"Our courts badly need reforms," Holder continued. "The Republicans have abused their power to give themselves an unfair advantage."
"It is necessary and totally appropriate to add seats," Holder declared.
Not only should the Supreme Court be expanded and packed, Holder said, but so should the appellate courts. According to the Times, Holder also spoke in favor of judicial term limits.
Will Biden expand the courts?
Biden infamously shied away from the question during his campaign last fall before finally suggesting that he was open to the idea.
However, Biden said he was "not a fan" of court-packing because it would likely trigger a partisan seesaw that shifts when ideological power changes hands in Congress and the White House.
Still, Biden has pledged to convene a bipartisan commission to study reforming the federal judiciary. Wholesale changes, if any are made, will likely only come in response to suggestions made by that commission.
Perhaps the most ironic aspect of Democrats' push to expand and pack the federal courts is that Ginsburg, the revered left-leaning jurist, thought court-packing was a terrible idea.
Speaking with NPR in 2019, Ginsburg explained why she did not like former President Franklin Roosevelt's attempts at packing the Supreme Court.
I have heard that there are some people on the Democratic side who would like to increase the number of judges. I think that was a bad idea when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried to pack the court. His plan was for every justice who stays on the court past the age of 70, the president would have the authority to nominate another justice. If that plan had been effective, the court's number would have swelled immediately from nine to 15, and the president would have six appointments to make.
You mention before the quote of appearing partisan. Well, if anything would make the court appear partisan then it would be that, one side saying, "When we're in power we're going to enlarge the number of judges so we'll have more people who will vote the way we want them to."
"So, I am not at all in favor of that solution to what I see is a temporary situation," Ginsburg declared.
RBG: “Bad idea when [FDR] tried to pack the court… If anything would make the court appear partisan it'd be...one s… https://t.co/qkdeQGPVYg— Jerry Dunleavy (@Jerry Dunleavy) 1600545766.0