Godfrey: But wouldn’t Republicans do the same thing the next time they’re in power?
Belkin: This is perhaps the No.1 concern that’s been voiced, but it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. A couple problems with this: The first thing is that the Court has already been stolen. If your wallet is stolen, you don’t forgo efforts to recover it just because it might be stolen again. It would probably take a generation—25 or 30 years—for the Democrats to get the majority on the Supreme Court back. If the Republicans steal the court, then the Democrats un-steal it. And if the Republicans steal it again, then the Democrats un-steal it again. It’s much better to have that zigzag than to just have unilateral surrender.
For people who are worried about Republican retaliation, court expansion is the safest way to protect democracy and the safest way to de-radicalize the Republican Party. The party has become completely unmoored from facts and reality. Progressives have a fantasy that thrashing the Republicans at the ballot box can de-radicalize them. That’s not true. The only way to de-radicalize the Republican Party is [for Democrats] to come back into office after the 2020 election and do three things: kill the filibuster, pass a democracy-reform bill, and expand the Court. If you unrig the system, the GOP will have to be de-radicalized at least a bit in order to win elections, and that is what will make the courts safe from Republican retaliation. They’ll be less radical as a party.