On Sunday, Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in the nation, called for changes to the Supreme Court to uproot the system that allowed Roe v. Wade to be overturned, including packing the courts and imposing term limits on Supreme Court justices.
The statement comes from an MSNBC interview that featured Jen Psaki, former White House Press Secretary, and Alexis McGill Johnson, the CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In the interview, the two discussed their views on the court and claimed that the courts were not protecting the fundamental rights of Americans.
“The fight to strengthen our democracy and bolster our institutions has always been intertwined with the fight for reproductive freedom,” McGill said in a statement. “As we continue to face unrelenting attacks on our basic freedoms, our courts must be one backstop to protecting our rights. Instead, the courts have been used as a vehicle to advance a dangerous agenda against abortion rights, voting rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and so much more."
"Planned Parenthood refuses to accept that our courts can only exist as they do now, and understands that reforms are integral to building the public’s trust that the courts can and will function to uphold hard-won freedoms and advance justice for future generations," the CEO continued. "PPFA’s expanded position is a continuation of our commitment to ensure that everyone, no matter where they live, has the freedom to make their own decisions about their own bodies, lives, and futures.”
The idea of court-packing and term limits for the Supreme Court is nothing new. Following former President Donald Trump's success in appointing three Supreme Court justices, many people on the left called for the then-new President Joe Biden to do so, as noted by The Washington Post.
The problem with court-packing isn’t so much the idea itself. Many people draw legitimate concerns with the number of Supreme Court Justices currently sitting at only nine, a notably low number for people making major decisions. The concern in court-packing comes with the slippery slope that follows it.
If a president on one side of the political spectrum were to appoint new judges to the court, it would then force the court to lean to that side of politics. It would create an unjust way of doing so, as it didn’t fit within the natural constitutional methods of getting the court to shift, like what was done during President Trump’s tenure in office.
So then the next time a new president is to be elected, if that president is of the opposing political philosophy of the last president, what should stop them from also packing the courts? In the end, the Supreme Court will be expanded, but the political lean will simply go back and forth during presidencies, diluting the sanctity of being a Supreme Court justice in the process.
Court-packing has been done before. In 1869 Congress increased the court from the then six justices to the current nine. This was done during the Reconstruction period following the Civil War when the government was essentially a single-party state.
The current divisive political climate simply doesn’t allow for court packing. It’s entirely infeasible to justly do so. It’s why so many presidents and members of Congress have voted against doing so time and time again. Once Pandora's Box is open, there is no closing it. Reconstruction allowed for a unique opportunity to do so when the court was all one party anyways, but an opportunity has never since arrived in American history.
Court-packing is especially dangerous when it comes to why Planned Parenthood is asking for it. Planned Parenthood may be framing their argument as a way of making the courts more justified and fair, but the reason is simple: they lost and they're not happy about it.
This exact scenario has played out before, with President Franklin Delanore Roosevelt attempting to pack the courts in 1937 because the Supreme Court was blocking his ‘New Deal’ legislation, per History.
This idea of court-packing is an especially dangerous one. It is an attempt to override the very system the United States was founded on. Rather than acting in the interest of Americans, they are uprooting the system for their interests. It’s for this exact reason that court-packing has been so vehemently avoided in the past because it’s easy to sneak ulterior motives into the action.
The ideas that Planned Parenthood is peddling are inherently dangerous ones. Rather than going through the proper channels to change the law, they are attempting to uproot the system to fit their needs. The passing of these ideas to their supporters only works to worsen the problem. Court-packing is a universally understood bad maneuver, and wanting to do so only shows pure desperation to get your objectives accomplished at the sacrifice of the law.