A week after President Joe Biden signed an executive order setting up a commission to study whether to expand the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS), the country’s highest court, progressive Democrats introduced laws expanding the court’s size to 13 lawyers.
Despite the fact that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said she did not intend to bring the issue to the ground, the debate began its own life on social media where the hashtag #ExpandTheCourt is in trend. Numerous groups and individuals quickly noticed that the size of the court had changed throughout the history of our nation.
Calls for dissemination
Lawmakers supporting such an expansion quickly moved to Twitter and other platforms.
Tail. Mondaire Jones (D-New York) (@RepMondaire) tweeted: “Our democracy has been attacked and the Supreme Court has dealt the sharpest blows. To restore power to the people, we must #ExpandCourt.”
Other Democratic MPs soon offered their own arguments for expanding the size of the court from nine judges to as many as 13.
“Expand the Supreme Court as our democracy depends on it, because it depends,” wrote spokeswoman Cori Bush (D-Missouri), (@CoriBush)
Most of the rational calls for court expansion stemmed from the fact that former President Donald Trump appointed three judges, shifting the balance.
Tail. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) (@RashidaTlaib) was among those who saw the shift as a serious problem of our democracy. She announced, “Republicans have damaged the Supreme Court and stolen the majority. It’s time to #ExpandThe Court to ensure we restore power to the people and bring justice to the people.”
Those who opposed
Many were equally opposed to calls for the court to be packed, with the same suggestions that democracy is at stake.
“Remember this day. Democrats are packing the Supreme Court because they know they can’t push their unpopular agenda through Congress,” warned MP Ken Buck (R-Colo.) (@RepKenBuck)
Former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) offered her thought on the issue, writing, “And just as Congressional Democrats are pushing for the destruction of two U.S. institutions: the Supreme Court and Filibuster. The Electoral College is next. which costs everything! “
There were also a few who took a bipartisan stance, focusing on what any increase in the number of SCOTUS judges could mean if and when Republicans return to power.
“What happens to the Supreme Court if seats are added and Republicans win the White House and Congress in 2024? They will, of course, add more seats. This idea just seems to be an extension of the race to the bottom that has been going on for decades because of judge nominations.” tweeted Shon Hopwood (@shonhopwood), an associate professor of law at Georgetown Law.
Political commentator Steven Crowder (@scrowder) was equally direct: “Packing the Supreme Court will fundamentally change our government. If you’re okay with that now, are you okay with it when the OTHER PARTY is in power?”
Religious debate not about religion
Politics and religion are two things that shouldn’t be discussed in a polite society, and social media has shown that it’s all just not decent lately.
“People should remember that this kind of heated debate actually comes back from Roe V. Wade, when Republicans made that issue a wedge in court,” explained Matthew Schmidt, Ph.D., a professor of political science at the University of New Haven.
“People have been falling on one side or the other of the problem, and that’s true since the 1980s,” Schmidt added. “This particular issue made the Supreme Court a lever for manipulating political identity. It has remained so ever since, but the issue goes beyond abortion. It began to bring moral and religious values into the debate, even when it was a secular issue. As a result, people treat these debates as if they were a religion. “
As the nation remains so politically divided, every argument is now treated as a war between good and bad.
Schmidt added that we would probably still have that division even if social media weren’t here, but one significant difference could be in hostility.
Past discussions could often remain a discussion between family and friends, and other issues outside of that discussion could bring people together. Now there is nothing in common with issues like the Supreme Court package discussed on social media.
“It’s not only clear that social media can exacerbate these debates, but it’s certainly easier for everyone to participate,” Schmidt noted. “The important difference is that you can see them as a man when you sit at a table and don’t hate someone who thinks differently. When you strip naked in context, you get the version of fire and sulfur that our politics became during a debate on issues like the Supreme Court.”