AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and 52 other Republican senators today issued a blistering response to a recent friend of the court brief filed by five Senate Democrats warning the court to back off a 2nd Amendment challenge to a NYC gun law or face “restructuring”. In a new letter sent to the Supreme Court, McConnell called the threat by the five senators a demonstration that the Democrats’ desire to pack the courts is “a direct and immediate threat to the independence of the judiciary and the rights of the American people.”
The letter to SCOTUS notes that the brief filed by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, Kirsten Gillibrand, Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) goes far beyond making a legal argument. It also makes a direct threat to the Court.
They openly threatened this court with political retribution if it failed to dismiss the petition as moot. The brief’s final paragraph warned: “The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it. Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be ‘restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.’ Particularly on the urgent issue of gun control, a nation desperately needs it to heal.” The implication is as plain as day: dismiss this case or we’ll pack the Court.
Judicial independence is under assault. Democrats in Congress, and on the presidential campaign trail, have peddled plans to pack this Court with more justices in order to further their radical legislative agenda. It’s one thing for these politicians to peddle these ideas in tweets or on the stump. But the Democrats’ amicus brief demonstrates that their court packing plans are more than mere pandering. They are a direct immediate threat to the independence of the judiciary and the rights of the American people.
McConnell and his Republican colleagues take no position on the actual case, which involves a challenge to a New York City law barring legal gun owners from transporting their firearms anywhere but five pre-approved ranges in the city. Instead, the 53 senators say their concern is that “Americans cannot trust that their constitutional rights are secure if they know that Democrats will try to browbeat this Court into ruling against those rights.”
I do worry about Democrats trying to pack the Court if they control both the legislative and executive branches of government, and I was honestly surprised to see the five Democrats who filed their brief with the court be so blatant in their threat. As McConnell notes, it’s one thing to call for expanding the Court on the campaign trail. It’s another to issue say to the nine justices, “It’s a nice Court you got here. Be a shame if something happened to it” in an attempt to get them to steer clear of a 2nd Amendment case.
This is where Washington is, unfortunately. There are some Democrats on Capitol Hill who view the current Supreme Court as illegitimate. They believe Merrick Garland should be a justice, not Neil Gorsuch. In their view, packing the court is only “restoring the balance” to its rightful place on the Left, and if they have the means to do so, they most certainly will.
McConnell closes the letter to the Supreme Court with a plea for the nine justices to ignore the threats by “opportunistic politicians” and “rule only as the law dictates, without regard to the identities of the parties or the politics of the moment”, which hopefully is a much better appeal to the justices than “Do as we say, or we’ll destroy you.”