Enough playing nice. It’s time to pack the courts | Moira Donegan
Republicans have rigged the judiciary in favor of their agenda. But Democrats can take it back
Anyone who still clung to the fiction that the federal judiciary is not a political entity should have been disillusioned watching Brett Kavanaugh’s performance at his confirmation hearing. Kavanaugh, who has been multiply and credibly accused of sexual assault, threw a tantrum that could rival any toddler’s when he was called before the Senate judiciary committee following the testimony of one of his accusers, the psychology professor Dr Christine Blasey Ford. Unwilling to engage with the substance of her accusations, Kavanaugh gave a red-faced and spitting partisan rant, whining that his ascent to power had been delayed and smearing the Democrats whose agenda he is all but openly eager to defeat from the bench. Kavanaugh lashed out at his political enemies, decrying Democrats and saying that his appointment was being delayed as part of an effort of “revenge on behalf of the Clintons”.
With this little display, Kavanaugh was all but admitting something that only the most naive or ill-informed observers of American politics don’t already know: that federal judges function as politicians, who are appointed less for their flimsy pretense of interpreting the law than for their real purpose, which is to enact and protect the policy agenda of whichever party commands their loyalty. Republicans have been behaving as if this is true for decades, campaigning on their ability to appoint judges that will enact conservative agendas and stymying or denying the confirmations of liberal judges. It is time for the Democrats to drop the pretense that the judiciary is apolitical, and admit that no progressive agenda can be enacted or maintained without a drastic overhaul of the federal judiciary. The next Democratic president must pack the courts.