It’s a lovely sentiment, this desire to elevate the court to a place of apolitical integrity. But it’s naive, and it does not represent reality. The court’s apolitical position is long gone and beyond restoring. And it is arguable, too, that Republicans have already been packing the courts for years. There was the Senate Republican’s brazen disregard for former president Barack Obama’s appointment power following the death of Antonin Scalia, where Mitch McConnell and other Republicans effectively lowered the number of supreme court justices from nine to eight for the duration of Obama’s term – denying his pick, Merrick Garland, a hearing and reserving the seat until a Republican president was installed and a conservative judge, Neil Gorsuch, could be placed on the court.
Republican obstructionism in the Senate has effectively narrowed the power to appoint federal judges to Republican presidents only for the lower courts, too. To less fanfare, the Republicans held open dozens of seats on the lower federal bench during the Obama administration, so that those spots could be packed with conservatives by the next Republican president.
To this end, Republicans have been aided tremendously by the Federalist Society, a pernicious association of craven reactionaries who aim to groom young, healthy rightwing lawyers and law students for long careers on the bench, and whose alumni now account for five of the nine justices on the supreme court, and dozens more on lower federal courts. The Federalist Society was formed in 1982 with the express purpose of hijacking the federal courts, and it has gained tremendous influence in the intervening decades. There is no leftwing equivalent.