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.
In an obsessive power grab, Roosevelt then attempted to mandate retirement at full pay for all members of the court over age 70. If a justice refused to retire, an “assistant” with full voting rights was to be appointed, ensuring Roosevelt a liberal majority. Most Republicans and many Democrats in Congress opposed the so-called “court-packing” plan — with the Senate striking it down by a vote of 70 to 22. Ultimately, Roosevelt nominated his first Supreme Court justice, and by 1942 all but two of the justices were his appointees.
Our bet is Linda Valdez would have been all too happy to see such liberal activism from the executive branch in reconfiguring the federal judiciary.
After Franklin Roosevelt was elected to an unprecedented fourth term, the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution was passed, officially limiting presidential tenure in office to two terms of four years each.
Valdez doubtless would have opposed that curtailment of the “president for life” measure, as long as the president was a like-minded liberal.
Smithsonian.com has a wealth of information on FDR and his audacious court packing scheme.