Are Democratic presidential candidates getting too radical for the Court’s leading leftist?
The question hanging over the Democratic presidential debates in Miami last month was whether the extreme views expressed by the candidates might alienate moderate voters. But now even one of America’s most celebrated leftists is expressing discomfort with the party’s radical turn. Affectionately called “Notorious RBG” by liberals who admire her judicial activism, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is nonetheless compelled to defend judicial tradition.
National Public Radio’s Nina Totenberg reports:
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in an interview Tuesday that she does not favor proposals put forth by some Democratic presidential candidates who have advocated changing the number of Supreme Court justices if the Democrats win the presidency.
South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, for example, wants to increase the number of Supreme Court Justices from nine to 15, among other structural changes to American government. While he’s lagging in the polls, Mr. Buttigieg has lately raised more money than any other Democratic candidate—nearly $25 million in the second quarter—so his ideas to remake the U.S. political order will be widely promoted.
And some of Mr. Buttigieg’s more popular rivals have already said they are open to such ideas. Politico’s Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine reported in March:
After watching Mitch McConnell transform the judiciary… liberals are demanding a bold response. And Democrats are listening.
Sens. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand told POLITICO they would not rule out expanding the Supreme Court if elected president, showcasing a new level of interest in the Democratic field on an issue that has until recently remained on the fringes of debate.
The surprising openness from White House hopefuls along with other prominent Senate Democrats to making sweeping changes — from adding seats to the high court to imposing term limits on judges and more — comes as the party is eager to chip away at the GOP’s growing advantage in the courts.
“We are on the verge of a crisis of confidence in the Supreme Court,” Harris (D-Calif.) said. “We have to take this challenge head on, and everything is on the table to do that.”
But Ms. Totenberg reports that Justice Ginsburg doesn’t think a personnel increase at the nation’s highest court should be on the table:
“Nine seems to be a good number. It’s been that way for a long time,” she said, adding, “I think it was a bad idea when President Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the court.”
Several Democratic candidates have indicated an openness, if they were to win the presidency, to adding to the number of justices on the Supreme Court to reduce the power of the current conservative majority.
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