OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
The Democrats’ efforts to pack the Supreme Court were put on hold after they proved unpopular with the electorate for a time, but the Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling on Thursday in favor of two Republican-passed Arizona voting laws to protect election integrity have prompted Democrats to once again sound the call to add more justices to the roster.
Writing the court’s majority opinion on the Arizona case, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the laws instituted by the Republicans did not violate the 1965 Voting Rights Act. He was supported b y Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and Chief Justice John Roberts. The three liberal justices, Kagan, Breyer, and Sotomayor dissented.
Liberal news outlet NPR said the decision “left close to a dead letter the law once hailed as the most effective civil rights legislation in the nation’s history.”
The 6-3 vote was along ideological lines, with Justice Samuel Alito writing the decision for the court’s conservative majority, and the liberals in angry dissent.
At issue in the case were two Arizona laws: one banned the collection of absentee ballots by anyone other than a relative or caregiver, and the other threw out any ballots cast in the wrong precinct. A federal appeals court struck down both provisions, ruling that they had an unequal impact on minority voters and that there was no evidence of fraud that would have justified their use.
“Today’s ruling is another blow to voting rights,” Massachusetts Democrat Sen. Ed Markey wrote on Twitter. “We have no time to waste to protect the right to vote. We must abolish the filibuster and pass the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act. And we must expand the Supreme Court.”
Today’s ruling is another blow to voting rights. We have no time to waste to protect the right to vote. We must abolish the filibuster and pass the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
And we must expand the Supreme Court. https://t.co/PwLLAlfXcx
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) July 1, 2021
Markey was echoed by New York Rep. Mondaire Jones, who declared that the Supreme Court had “gutted” the Voting Rights Act pushed by Democrats.
“Today, the Supreme Court once again gutted the Voting Rights Act. If we don’t expand the Court soon, we will no longer have a democracy to protect. What are we waiting for?” wrote Jones on Twitter.
Today, the Supreme Court once again gutted the Voting Rights Act.
If we don’t expand the Court soon, we will no longer have a democracy to protect.
What are we waiting for?pic.twitter.com/mti1ZG6Enf
— Mondaire Jones (@MondaireJones) July 1, 2021
“And still some people have the nerve to question whether Court expansion is necessary,” Jones said in response to a tweet that accused Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of “stealing” Supreme Court seats for Trump.
Both Jones and Markey were joined by Georgia Democrat Rep. Hank Johnson, who also called for an expansion of the Supreme Court and abolishing the filibuster that prevents Democrats from simply pushing laws through. Johnson was quoting a political action group called “Demand Justice” that calls for the abolition of the filibuster, the passage of HR1, Washington D.C. statehood, and court packing.
— Hank Johnson (@ReElectHank) July 1, 2021
Calls to pack the Supreme Court were raised last year during the run-up to the election when Democrats introduced a bill to expand the court from nine to 13 justices. The issue is known as “court packing” and critics fear it would allow sitting presidents like Biden to install activist judges and reshape the trajectory of the country in a single direction.
When questioned on whether he supported the move, Biden refused to answer questions during his campaign last year. “Whatever position I take on that, that’ll become the issue,” said Biden during a presidential debate, reports Daily Wire.
The move was a response to Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, whom Democrats see as pro-life judges and as obstacles to activist organizations like Planned Parenthood.