WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 15: (LR) Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), Justice of the House … [+]
A week after President Joe Biden signed an executive order to set up a commission to investigate whether the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS), the country’s highest court, should be expanded, progressive Democrats passed legislation to increase the size of the Court expand to 13 judges.
Despite the fact that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) has said she has no intention of bringing up the issue, the debate on social media, where the hashtag #ExpandTheCourt is trending has acquired a life of its own. Numerous groups and individuals quickly realized that the size of the court has changed over the course of our nation’s history.
Calls to expand
Legislators who supported such an expansion quickly went to Twitter and other platforms.
MP Mondaire Jones (D-New York) (@RepMondaire) tweeted, “Our democracy is under attack and the Supreme Court has dealt the toughest blows. To restore popular power, we need to #ExpandTheCourt.”
Other Democratic lawmakers soon made their own arguments for expanding the size of the court from nine judges to as many as 13.
“Expand the Supreme Court just as our democracy depends on it, because it does,” wrote Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri) (@CoriBush).
Much of the sanity of the court enlargement calls was based on the fact that former President Donald Trump had appointed three judges, which upset the balance.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) (@RashidaTlaib) was among those who viewed the shift as a serious problem for our democracy. She wrote, “The Republicans damaged the Supreme Court and stole the majority. It is time to run #ExpandTheCourt to ensure we restore people’s power and bring people justice.”
There were many alike against the calls to grab the court, with the same suggestions that democracy was at stake.
“Remember that day. Democrats grab the Supreme Court because they know they can’t get their unpopular agenda through Congress,” warned Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) (@RepKenBuck)
Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) commented on the matter, writing, “And just like these Congressional Democrats are advocating the destruction of two American institutions: the Supreme Court and the Filibuster. Electoral College is next. Power on every place. ” and everything costs! “
There were also some who took a more bipartisan stance, focusing on what an increase in the number of SCOTUS judges could mean when Republicans are back in power.
“What happens to the Supreme Court if seats are added and Republicans win the White House and Congress in 2024? They will of course add more seats. This idea seems just an extension of a decades-long race to the bottom over judicial nominations,” Shon Hopwood (@shonhopwood), Associate Professor of Law at Georgetown Law tweeted.
Political commentator Steven Crowder (@scrowder) also said directly, “The wrapping of the Supreme Court will fundamentally change our government. If you agree now, do you agree when the OTHER SIDE is in power?”
A religious debate not about religion
Politics and religion are two things that shouldn’t be discussed in polite society, and social media has shown this to be far from polite lately.
“People should remember that this kind of heated discussion actually dates back to Roe V. Wade when Republicans made it a wedge problem within the court,” said Matthew Schmidt, Ph.D., professor of political science at the university of New Haven.
“People have fallen to one side of the problem or the other, and that has been true since the 1980s,” added Schmidt. “This particular problem made the Supreme Court a fulcrum for manipulating political identity. It has remained that fulcrum ever since, but the problem extends beyond abortion. It began to bring moral and religious values into the debate, even as secular As a result, people treat these debates as if they were religion. “
With the nation so politically divided, any argument is now treated like a war between right and wrong.
Schmidt added that we’d likely still have that divide even if social media weren’t here, but one notable difference could be in hostility.
Previous debates could often remain a debate between family and friends, and other topics outside of that debate could bring people together. There is no common ground on topics like the Supreme Court pack being discussed on social media.
“It is not only clear that social media can make these debates worse, but it is certainly easier for everyone to participate,” said Schmidt. “An important difference is that you can see them as human beings when you’re at the table and that you don’t hate someone for thinking differently. If you touch that context, you get a fire and brimstone version of our politics has gotten into the debate on issues like the Supreme Court. “