The supreme court swinging back and forth between conservative and liberal majorities has become too disruptive given the bipolar nature of today’s political landscape.
We could do with a more consistent court that is less prone to political gusts and better represents the prevailing winds of the nation at large.
Though both Democrats and Republicans can benefit from such rapid shifts in the short term, it does not serve the country for radical shifts to either side in the long term, as the court then become unresponsive to gradual changes in the culture at large and serves only to build negative cultural tension by maintaining a shift to the left or right that become increasingly at odds with current mores.
This problem is largely caused by the lifetime appointment of justices, though that is an essential element that conceptually allows them freedom from social and political pressure to rule according to their understanding of the constitution.
But, since the constitution is both a legal document and an inspirational outline, different justices often interpret its meaning in different ways.
When the court is stacked too heavily in one direction or another, then decisions consistently favor only one of those perspectives putting the law of the land at odds with the people of the land and undermining the intent of the founding fathers for a representative government.
Wisely, the founding fathers did not specify the number of supreme court justices in the constitution. It was never their intent to pre-determine how many might be needed.
Historically, the number of justices has both increased and decreased at various times, ranging from 6 when the court was first convened up to 10 during the Civil War and back to 9 in 1869 where it has remained to this day.
Ideally, the number of justices should fluctuate as the political rift in the nation widens or narrows. Fewer justices are needed in times of cultural unity and more judges are needed in time of cultural division so that decisions are not so easily responsive to transient political power but are more reflective of long-term societal evolution.
To that end, I believe it is clear that the current court needs to be enlarged to compensate for the intense disunity of the past few administrations, both Democratic and Republican.
This is essential so that any minority which may, through circumstance, come temporarily to power is not able to bias the court toward its agenda so that the majority will not be properly represented for years or perhaps decades to come.
Democrats should not have the power to force their view on society through momentary power plays and neither should Republicans.
Of late, much has been spoken of “stacking the court.” To Republicans, this means expanding the court and filling the new seats with liberal-leaning justices. To Democrats this means filling the current court with conservative-leaning justices with no new expected openings in sight.
Let me suggest this balanced approach to setting up a supreme court that truly represents the will of the people, even in this time of tension.
The court currently has 6 justices appointed under Republican administrations and 3 appointed under Democratic. Clearly, this is out of balance since both parties have roughly the same number of registrations and need roughly the same number of justices to fully represent the people.
What if the court was expanded to perhaps 15 justices by allowing both parties to choose the nominees so that the court becomes fully balanced between conservative and liberal, save the chief justice who would always be chosen by the party in power when the position opened?
In this way, the current court would add two more justices nominated by Republicans, bringing their representation to 7 (not including the chief justice.
Democrats would nominate four more justices bringing their representation also to 7.
The court would be balanced once more with a very sight bias to the conservative perspective since Chief Justice Roberts was appointed by a Republican administration, though he has proven himself to be a balanced arbitrator in his own right.
We cannot go on as we are, tearing away at each other. A an expanded and balanced Supreme Court would average out the effect of political leanings so that the law of the land would change slowly, along with our changing society, and would never create additional social tension by locking either political agenda in place which currently disenfranchises half the population.
Somebody someday is going to have to do this or our national rift will widen into growing social unrest and threaten to rip apart the fabric of society.
My message to Democrats: If you win the election, don’t stick it to the Republicans and stack the court. Expand the court to balance it.
My message to Republicans: Don’t fight court expansion to hold on to the unbalanced current situation for it will create tension and disrupt society.
My message to Americans. Embrace a balanced expanded court and join together in unity as one people.
That’s my opinion.