Friday, May 24, 2013

Chuck Grassley on court packing

By Frank Moraes

During the Great Depression, Roosevelt was very angry that the Supreme Court kept blocking his reforms. A slim majority on the Court was very conservative. (Sound familiar?) What could the president do? Well, he could pack the court. The number of people on the Supreme court is not stated in the Constitution. So Roosevelt threatened to add the number of seats on the court and fill them with pro-New Deal justices. Ultimately, this wasn't done for a few reasons -- most notably the retirement of a conservative judge that gave the liberals a small majority. But the point is, "court packing" does not refer to the normal procedure of presidents filling open seats.

Now you know more than Senator Chuck Grassley. In the debate over whether to allow Sri Srinivasan sit on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Grassley complained six times about Obama's supposed efforts at "court packing." He apparently thought that trying to fill vacancies was "court packing." We see this problem again and again. Start with a Senator of relatively limited mental acumen. Let them age past the 70-year cognitive decline. And watch the stupid fly!

Dylan Matthews helpfully put together the following compilation of Grassley's embarrassment:



Now, I don't want to hear any complaints that most people don't know what "court packing" was either. This is true. I've asked a number of people and there is widespread confusion on the matter. Just the same, none of these people go around complaining that Obama is engaged in "court packing." They don't even do it in private. And they certainly don't have staffs that vet their talking points.


Of course, Grassley's comments don't exist in a vacuum. He probably got them from a Wall Street Journal editorial over the weekend, "Packing the D.C. Circuit." The editors too are confused on the matter, thinking that liberals' desire to fill the vacant seats as court packing. I am constantly amazed that modern conservatism has such a weak intellectual basis. Gone are the days of William F. Buckley. Now, the few good thinkers on the right are largely ignored. And the Wall Street Journal editorial page has long been nothing but a bastion of right wing freaks and conspiracy theorists.

I understand that Rush Limbaugh bases his talk show on the ravings of the Wall Street Journal editorial page. But Chuck Grassley? With his large taxpayer provided staff? This is just sad. 

Afterword 

The Bell Curve author Charles A. Murray is actually making the argument that African-Americans are poor because they are stupid. People get confused about this fact, thinking that he's just some bigot. No. All the eugenics-inspired ridiculousness is done in the name of an attack on affirmative action. But United States senators (and plenty of other rich and "successful" people) are constantly showing that they are pretty dim. Where's the outrage over that?

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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