Ducey’s court packing scheme is the most IOKIYAR thing ever

12 May 2016 02:16 am
Posted by: Donna


Per Russell Berman of The Atlantic:

Republicans have not traditionally been fans of Franklin Roosevelt, but in statehouses across the country they are trying to emulate one of the Democratic president’s most notorious schemes: court-packing.

The latest effort is in Arizona, where the GOP-controlled legislature has passed a measure to increase the number of justices on the state’s Supreme Court to seven from its current five. Governor Doug Ducey, a Republican, must now decide whether to sign the bill, which has become enmeshed in negotiations over increased funding for the judiciary and raises for state judges. Republicans enacted similar legislation earlier this month in Georgia increasing the number of justices on the state Supreme Court to nine, from its current seven…

…In Arizona, the expected expansion has been the culmination of a years-long effort by Republican legislators that has divided jurists and the public alike. Proponents have pointed to the state’s growing population: It has tripled since the last time Arizona expanded its Supreme Court, to five justices from, in 1960. Never mind that by this logic, the U.S. Supreme Court would have a few dozen justices by now instead of its current nine (actually eight, because of Republican opposition to filling Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat)…

…So is the expansion effort by Arizona Republicans the same as court-packing? The term has taken on slightly different definitions over the years. Most recently, Republicans in Washington tried to accuse President Obama to “court-packing” when he wanted to fill three existing vacancies on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals—an attempt at rhetorical misdirection that was widely mocked. In Arizona, there are a couple of key differences between the GOP effort and FDR’s bid to secure approval for New Deal legislation in the 1930s by adding more of his own appointees to the nine-member Supreme Court. For one, even critics of the Arizona plan say it is not motivated by specific legislation or a specific case. And the appointment process is different, too. The governor must select judges from a group recommended by the Arizona Commission on Appellate Court Appointments; he could still choose candidates from his own party, but his power is more limited than a president’s. Yet there is little dispute that conservatives have pushed the expansion with the goal of padding the court during Republican gubernatorial administrations. The sponsor of the bill, state Representative J.D. Mesnard, acknowledged that “if there were different person appointing, I might feel less comfortable.”

You bet your ass Mesnard would. Which is why this post from from last month at the right wing blog Seeing Red AZ tut-tutting over “far-left editorial writer” Linda Valdez of the AZ Republic expressing concern over the sudden move to increase Supreme Court justices is so comical:

“Court packing” double talk from the devious left

Linda Valdez, the far-left editorial writer at the Periódico de la República de Arizona (Arizona Republic) is having anxiety attacks over what she repeatedly refers to as “packing the court.” A piece of legislation (HB 2537) winding its way through the chambers allows for the addition of two new Supreme Court justices on the Arizona high court, expanding the number from the current five to seven members. Republican Gov. Doug Ducey would make the appointments filling the two vacancies if the bill wins approval.

The court building and bench were constructed to accommodate the increased number of justices.

SRAZ currently takes no position on the plan. But it’s interesting to ponder if Valdez would be so indignant if the date were 1937 and it was the U.S. Supreme Court that was under consideration for expansion to as many as 15 justices.

That was the Machiavellian scheme of Democrat President Franklin Roosevelt who planned to expand the U.S. Supreme Court, allegedly to make it more efficient. Critics charged that Roosevelt was trying to “pack” the court and neutralize Supreme Court justices hostile to his radically liberal “New Deal” of overreaching federal programs. During the previous two years, the high court struck down several key pieces of New Deal legislation on the grounds that the laws delegated an unconstitutional amount of authority to the executive branch and the federal government.

Critics of Roosevelt’s plan did have a point that it was overreaching and clearly driven by an agenda so it went nowhere. But comparisons to Roosevelt are moot anyway, since Roosevelt did it as a threat, and one that was quickly rendered unnecessary when enough sitting Justices came to his side on some key issues.

A better thought exercise would be to imagine if it were Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, the Democrat who served from 2003 to 2009, who even dared to propose such a thing. Can you imagine the apoplexy from the Right if she even idly suggested it? I think you can.

Of course, there’s no need to engage in such imagining as regards conservatives’ forked tongues over judicial appointments, is there? One only need consider how they have been handling existing federal ones that Barack Obama has had the temerity to think he should be able to fill, like he’s the President of the United States or something. Talk to me about “liberal hypocrisy” because of something FDR tried to do eighty years ago when Merrick Garland gets a hearing this year, Republicans.

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