‘Court-Packing’ and the Rhetorical Hypocrisy of the Left

ReidKabukiApparently Harry Reid is so desperate to distract from the ongoing train wreck that is ObamaCare–sorry, the “Affordable Care Act,” now that it is faceplanting–that he is willing to use the Nuclear Option as a diversion.

Or maybe the timing is mere coincidence. (And by the way, are you by any chance interested in ocean-front property in Nevada? Call me!) Maybe the Senate Majority Leader simply ran out of patience, and decided that now was the time to advance President Obama’s court-packing plan vis. the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

But wait, cries the Left! There are vacancies on the Court! So it’s not court-packing! That nomenclature only applies to adding judges, not to filling vacancies! For example:

But as Grassley surely knows, nominating three judges to fill existing vacancies on one appellate court is not “court packing.” As many legal historians have noted, “court packing” was what Franklin Delano Roosevelt committed when he attempted to add additional seats to the Supreme Court to gain more support for his agenda. Rather than add additional seats, Obama’s nominees would fill existing vacancies…

Then I guess Democrats railing against “court-packing” by Republicans were misusing the term?

The New York Times, in 1991, on the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court (emphasis added):

By trying to pack the Court with conservatives and by seeking to predetermine rulings on the most important issues before the nation, [George H.W. Bush] robbed would-be justices of their protective dignity and the Court of its judicial impartiality and majesty. He took the Court into the political pit and, predictably, ignited an ugly political brawl. For justice now, he must be made to choose another Justice.

Edward Lazarus, 1998 (emphasis added):

Many liberals have harped on the Reagan Administration’s systematic effort to pack federal courts with like-minded judges. It is difficult to pinpoint a sound basis for objecting, however. Reagan was elected, in part, because of an expectation that he would use the Presidency’s appointment power to further his ideological agenda.

Los Angeles Times, 2001 (emphasis added):

We are on the brink of a court-packing crisis. President [George W.] Bush, relying on the conservative Federalist Society as his principal advisor, soon will be sending a stream of right-wing ideologues to the Senate for confirmation to the nation’s federal courts. This will pave the way for hard-right nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court as the high court’s justices depart.

John Dean, 2002:

[T]he Bush Administration will soon make a effort to pack the federal courts with socially, economically and politically conservative judges. Worse, these judges will be the type who view positions on the judiciary as a prize opportunity to make their philosophy the law of the land….Bush’s hard right core constituency wants more than anything else to pack the federal courts with those who share their thinking, and are willing to impose it through the court system.

The Nation, 2004 (emphasis added):

Democrats haven’t made much of what would happen to the courts should Bush win a second term…A friend of mine recently met a Yale senior who supported Kerry, but not enough to register to vote; when she pointed out that Bush would have four years to pack the courts, the young genius acknowledged that this thought had never occurred to him.

Patrick Leahy, 2008 (emphasis added):

Despite these efforts to pack the Federal courts and tilt them sharply to the right, one of my first acts when I took over as chairman in 2001 was to restore openness and accountability to the nominations process that had been abused when the Republican-controlled Senate pocket-filibustered President Clinton’s nominees with anonymous holds and without public opposition or explanation.

Patrick Leahy, 2013 (emphasis added):

[T]here is no dispute that President Bush was engaged in an effort to pack the courts with ideological extremists.

But wait, there’s more! Much more! See Footnote [1].

So spare me the You Dumbass Republicans Don’t Even Know What Court-Packing Is nonsense, OK? This bit of changing language and rules in the middle of the game because you’re losing is getting really, really old.


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