GOP condemns Dems’ ‘direct, immediate threat’ to Supreme Court
Fifty-three Republican senators have signed a letter to the Supreme Court condemning a “threat” of political retribution from Democrats if the justices don’t dismiss a case challenging a gun-control law.
The Republican letter was a response to Senate Democrats threatening to “stack” the court with more seats.
The Democrats want the court to dismiss a petition challenging a New York City law that forbids the transport of locked, unloaded handguns. Fearing an unfavorable precedent, they insist the issue is moot, because New York backed off on the law when the case was appealed to the Supreme Court.
“The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it,” the Democratic senators wrote. “Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be ‘restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.’ Particularly on the urgent issue of gun control, a nation desperately needs it to heal.”
The Republicans, addressing their letter to Supreme Court clerk Scott Harris, said they have no problem with senators submitting friend-of-the-court briefs.
“But our colleagues did more than raise legal arguments in favor of mootness. They openly threatened this court with political retribution if it failed to dismiss the petition as moot,” the letter said.
“The implication is as plain as day: Dismiss this case, or we’ll pack the court.”
Court “packing” is the concept of adding justices to the Supreme Court to influence its decisions.
The GOP senators said they were opposed.
“There is no greater example of the genius of our Constitution than its creation of an independent judiciary. Alexander Hamilton explained in Federalist No. 78 that ‘[t]he complete independence of the courts of justice is peculiarly essential in a limited Constitution.’ Only an independent judiciary can ‘guard the Constitution and the rights of individuals from … dangerous innovations in government, and serious oppressions of the minor party in the community.’”
They continued: “Democrats in Congress, and on the presidential campaign trail, have peddled plans to pack this court with more justices in order to further their radical legislative agenda. … They are a direct, immediate threat to the independence of the judiciary and the rights of all Americans.”
The GOP senators said they were taking no position on the case at hand.
“But judicial independence is not negotiable. We will brook no threats to this fundamental precept of our constitutional structure.”
Among the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates threatening the court with “packing” are Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who wants 15 justices instead of nine, and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
Both Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., have expressed interest in packing the court.
President Trump promised in 2016 he would appoint originalist judges to federal bench positions, and so far he’s named about 100 district, appeals court and Supreme Court judges.
Harvard professor Laurence Tribe has scolded the Democratic senators for threatening the justices.
Tribe said: “I agree the Court should drop this case as moot and am usually a fan of @SenWhitehouse but I think this brief was inappropriately — and stupidly— threatening. If anything is calculated to get the Court’s back up, it’s a brief like this. Really bad move.”
WND reported Washington watchdog Judicial Watch reacted to the brief by submitting a complaint with the bar association of Rhode Island because Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse filed the brief while on inactive status as a lawyer.
Along with Whitehouse being on inactive status, Judicial Watch said the brief “was unbecoming of the legal profession as it is nothing more than an attack on the federal judiciary and an open threat to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, earlier told his Democratic colleagues in the Senate to quit bullying the justices on the Supreme Court.
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