AOC: Why are we letting nine justices tell Congress what it can and can't do?

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya File)

My God. She’s never sounded so much like a Republican.

You know, she’s still young. Reagan had liberal sympathies in his youth too. Trump was famously a Democrat for years. Decades from now, she could be the GOP’s Thatcher.


She wouldn’t even have to travel that far ideologically. The nationalist wing of the party already basically agrees with her on economics.

In all seriousness, there’s less to her comment about letting nine judges boss Congress around than there might appear. She’s not suggesting that Congress should disregard rulings by the Court — I think. And she’s not arguing that Marbury v. Madison should be overturned and the practice of judicial review abandoned — I think.

What she’s saying, dopily enough, is that she’d be fine with 13 judges telling America’s elected representatives what they can and can’t do. Just not nine.

Why would 13 people overruling a majority of legislators elected by millions of people deserve any more legitimacy than nine people would? *Shrug* Only because, I guess, that 13-person Court would temporarily include seven Democratic appointees once Biden filled the four new vacancies created by Congress. Ten or 20 years from now, after appointments made by Republican presidents once again tipped the balance of power on the Court to the right, presumably the next generation of progressives would conclude that 13 people can’t rightly overrule the people’s representatives. But 17 can.


Nah, I’m just kidding. Once Dems went nuclear by expanding the Court to 13, the GOP would expand it to 15 or 17 or whatever the moment they had total control of government again. We wouldn’t have to wait for a Republican president to shift the Court to the right the old-fashioned way, via judicial attrition over a span of years.

In fairness, AOC wasn’t the Democrat with the dumbest Court-packing soundbite this week:

When I read that initially I thought it was a goof, a playful joke on the Dems’ tiresome habit lately of describing their entire policy agenda as “infrastructure.” But Jones is a co-sponsor of the Court-packing bill and legislators aren’t known for their senses of humor about their top policy priorities. I think he thinks it’s a clever pitch.

Who wants to tell him?

If you think you hate his Court-packing bill, imagine how much Schumer and Pelosi hate it. Jonathan Last is entirely right about the politics here. Court-packing has 0.0 percent chance of passing Congress but a solid chance of alienating voters, among whom the idea is unpopular. That makes it a pure liability for Democrats. But progressives like Jones and AOC don’t care about that; they’re happy to push the bill anyway in order to virtue-signal to their base, never mind what the media attention will do for their colleagues in tight purple districts.


[T]he Supreme Court expansion bills are going to get hung around the necks of every vulnerable Democrat in America come 2022, with zero upside.

It’s “Defund the Police” on steroids.

To the credit of the party’s leadership, Biden clearly wants no part of this and Nancy Pelosi says she’s not even going to bring the bill to the floor. But leadership didn’t have enough control to stop a group of reasonably senior Democrats—Jerry Nadler and Ed Markey are not gadflies—from handing Republicans a weapon.

The Democrats’ margin for error on holding the House was already close to zero. And it just got smaller.

Right, it’s not just the young guns like Jones and Ocasio-Cortez who are all-in here. It’s the senior statesmen like Markey and Nadler. You can sort of understand that in Nadler’s case since he’s up for reelection every two years and just watched a longtime colleague from his home state, Eliot Engel, get bounced from Congress by a primary challenge from the left. But Markey just got reelected to a six-year term in Massachusetts. He’s saddling his party with Court-packing baggage despite not having to worry about another primary for five years.

Which means, ironically, he could be bringing about a political climate in 2022 that’ll end up giving Mitch McConnell veto power over Biden’s judicial nominees in 2023. And for what? For nothing at all except an opportunity to grandstand. Oh well.


Here’s Jones making the case for his bill.

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