SALT LAKE CITY – Congressional Democrats threatening to “pack the Supreme Court” in retaliation for the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will get no support from local congressional candidate Darren Parry.
Although he opposes confirmation hearings for Barrett prior to the November election, the maverick Democrat disagrees with the idea of adding more liberal justices to the High Court to change its political orientation.
“I don’t see the answer (to this controversy) in packing the Supreme Court, even if the Democrats had the ability to do so,” Parry said during a recent face-off with Blake Moore, his Republican rival to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop in Congress.
Parry sees the dispute over Barrett’s nomination as a symptom of the deep political chasm in the U.S. government.
“This is the problem that we see too often today,” he said during the Sept. 24 event hosted by the Utah Debate Commission. “Everything has become too partisan. People have quit thinking for themselves in Washington D.C.”
Democrats began threatening to increase the number of jurists sitting on the U.S. Supreme Count’s bench after President Donald Trump signaled his intent to obtain confirmation of Barrett’s nomination prior to the November election.
Democrats have expressed outrage over the timing of Barrett’s nomination, since the Republican controlled Senate had rejected a Supreme Court nomination from former President Barak Obama during his final year in office. They have also criticized Barrett’s conservative judicial views and her devotion to the Roman Catholic Church
That idea of packing the U.S. Supreme Court isn’t a novel one. It was initially proposed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, in 1937.
During Roosevelt’s first term in office, a conservative majority of justices on the U.S. Supreme Count had struck down several of his New Deal economic programs as unconstitutional. After being reelected in 1936, Roosevelt proposed a bill would have granted the president power to appoint additional justices to the Supreme Court, up to a maximum of six.
The present composition of the Supreme Court, with a chief justice and eight associate justices, was established by Congress through the Judiciary Act of 1869. Although Roosevelt would have needed the unlikely support of both houses of the Congress to change that composition, just the threat of packing the Supreme Court was sufficient to intimidate its members into adopting a more favorable attitude toward subsequent New Deal programs.
Like Parry, Moore believes the current Democratic threat to pack the Supreme Count is equally hollow.
“The Democrats would need sufficient authority and constitutional principles to be able to do that …” he said. “That is not something that I would support … It’s just a threat to dissuade Senate Republican from moving ahead with confirmation of a replacement for Justice Ginsburg and I support their efforts to do that before the election.”
But his moderate Democratic opponent believes that the solution to contentious issues like the one sparked by Ginsburg’s death can only be found by restoring balance in the federal government’s separation of powers.
“The Constitution was set up with checks and balances,” Parry explained. “It gave certain authority to the different branches of the government so they could make decisions without holding all the power.
“We’ve seen this president, through executive order after executive order, circumvent that separation of powers.
“I stand for the Constitution,” Parry added. “I stand for getting partisan politics out of government. I stand for doing the right thing.”
Parry and Moore will compete for the Utah 1st District seat in Congress in the November general election.