Trump has been explicit that this is exactly what he is thinking. The “scam that the Democrats are pulling,” he said Wednesday, not specifying what the “scam” is, “will be before the United States Supreme Court.” And “I think having a 4-4 situation is not a good situation.” Why? Because if the decision is “more political than it should be, I think it’s very important to have a ninth judge.”

This is why congressional Republicans, unlike the president, have had no difficulty declaring that there will be a peaceful transfer of power, while insisting on pushing their nominee for the court through before the election: There will be no transfer of power, peaceful or otherwise, because the new court will certify the president’s power grab.

And let’s not kid ourselves about what will happen to the country if Trump pulls this off. It will not just be another four years of head-shaking at the president’s tweets. Trump will have taken us to a new place, one we know only from watching the course of authoritarian regimes elsewhere. He will control not only the power ministries — the Justice Department, the Defense Department and the intelligence services — as he does now, and, probably, the Senate, which will continue to back his every move. But he will also have eliminated the Supreme Court as a check against his actions. There will be nothing left to stand in his way.