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Thread: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

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    Default The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    Interesting fact: In the 85 years since 1932, Democrats have held supermajorities in the Senate for 24 of them. Republicans have not held a Senate supermajority since the Harding administration a century ago. A supermajority would be needed to reform the structure of the court system. The Supreme Court has always been a political institution beneath the judicial patina, but today it is more so than at almost any other time.

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    In order to give the Republicans one solid chance to come in from the cold, the next Democratic government should propose an eminently centrist grand bargain:

    1. The Supreme Court is expanded to 11 justices.
    2. A term-limit of 20 years is put in place, with retroactive application.
    3. Ruth Bader Ginsburg (liberal), Clarence Thomas (conservative), and Stephen Breyer (liberal) have been on the court for over 20 years (appointed in the 90s).
    4. As a show of faith, the Democratic government should replace them with two justices on the center-left, and one on the center-right.
    5. In time, the SCOTUS would be a rotating chamber like the Senate, and 2 justices would be replaced every 4 years.


    It's pretty simple. The Republicans are guaranteed 2 Supreme Court picks every 4-year term, so long as they can win presidential elections. For example, if a Republican wins in 2024, they would be entitled to replace Roberts and Alito.

    A refusal by Republicans to even consider the proposal on its merits should be interpreted as an official declaration of their intent to establish a single-party state.
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    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    Why? I agree with limits for their terms sure, but I don't see the point in expanding the court.
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    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    To help improve the system requires proper proportional representation rather than first past the post at state and federal level. Suddenly this whole issue would become irrelevant.

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    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    Quote Originally Posted by rory_20_uk View Post
    To help improve the system requires proper proportional representation rather than first past the post at state and federal level. Suddenly this whole issue would become irrelevant.

    They need a proper dual system, one house using democracy to guard against tyranny, another using technocracy to guard against ignorance. Or else have different levels of democracy representing different levels of population, as the original intention was apparently supposed to do. Having multiple houses reinforcing the same party politics is pointless.

  5. #5

    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    Quote Originally Posted by Csargo View Post
    Why? I agree with limits for their terms sure, but I don't see the point in expanding the court.
    Good question.

    The Supreme Court today basically acts as an elite legislature. From the partisan point of view, it would be unacceptable to have a few Republicans strike down nearly any possible Democratic reform in the coming decades. From the left philosophical point of view, a few jumped-up bureaucrats deciding the fate of millions from their cloister is unconscionable, regardless of their political orientation.

    The reform proposed above is essentially centrist, in that it preserves the Supreme Court while making it a little more representative of ideology in the country (a 6/5 balance favoring Democrats would be roughly proportional).

    A more thorough-going reform would be for Congress to outright legislate away the power the Supreme Court has arrogated to itself over 200 years, and start over with the larger federal court system.

    Quote Originally Posted by U.S. Const. art. III, § 2.
    2: In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.
    In other words, the Left partisan reform would be to eliminate almost all appellate functions of the Supreme Court, replaced with, say, cross-circuit panels for ultimate appeals.

    If Republicans reject the centrist compromise, Democrats ought to use it to justify the radical program.

    Quote Originally Posted by rory_20_uk View Post
    To help improve the system requires proper proportional representation rather than first past the post at state and federal level. Suddenly this whole issue would become irrelevant.

    Reforms of the legislature are a worthy topic, but distinct from this one.
    Last edited by Montmorency; 10-11-2018 at 21:22.
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    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    Quote Originally Posted by Montmorency View Post
    Good question.

    The Supreme Court today basically acts as an elite legislature. From the partisan point of view, it would be unacceptable to have a few Republicans strike down nearly any possible Democratic reform in the coming decades. From the left philosophical point of view, a few jumped-up bureaucrats deciding the fate of millions from their cloister is unconscionable, regardless of their political orientation.

    The reform proposed above is essentially centrist, in that it preserves the Supreme Court while making it a little more representative of ideology in the country (a 6/5 balance favoring Democrats would be roughly proportional).

    A more thorough-going reform would be for Congress to outright legislate away the power the Supreme Court has arrogated to itself over 200 years, and start over with the larger federal court system.
    I'd be in favor of your last point, because as far as I understand it the Supreme Court wasn't intended for purposes it's currently being used for, acts as an elite legislature, like you said. I don't like the idea of packing the court as you suggested, I'd much prefer for the power of the SC to be mitigated in some fashion.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sooh View Post
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  7. #7

    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    Quote Originally Posted by Csargo View Post
    I'd be in favor of your last point, because as far as I understand it the Supreme Court wasn't intended for purposes it's currently being used for, acts as an elite legislature, like you said. I don't like the idea of packing the court as you suggested, I'd much prefer for the power of the SC to be mitigated in some fashion.
    Right, but these things advance in stages. So just as "Medicare for All" jumped the debate between a public insurance option and insurance subsidies while still falling short of a total upheaval of the process and logistics of healthcare in the country, you can probably expect #packthecourt to become a consensus liberal rallying cry in the next few years: 'put more dudes on the court' is easily understandable by the general public just like 'Medicare but for all the people', it's not too wild in the current framework, and fears of it ignitiing a right-wing revolt are overstated.

    (lol tfw he talks about Medicare for All like it's a done deal)
    Last edited by Montmorency; 10-12-2018 at 03:05.
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    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    Everyone knew the deal with the SCOTUS, but because of time and patience the Constitutional Convention only made Article 3 a skeleton article. Perhaps no one really had any idea of what to do with it in the first place and let future Congressmen sort it out.

    But Marbury vs Madison and the advent of Judicial Review is the law of the land, and a fundamental part of Constitutional law despite its absence in the text. No Congress has seriously attempted at making the type of reforms you bring up for 200 years. Early presidents defied their rulings, but now even they have been tamed (since FDR at least). Everyone likes SCOTUS the most of the three branches because it is by far the most technocratic. With the exception of very late twentieth century to present day picks, judges were competent and prestigious in their field.

    The SCOTUS has become what the Founder's tacitly approved of since they did not fight the expansion of the court's power of Judicial Review in the early 19th century. And that was a time when they were not hesitant to define SCOTUS role since they did pass the 11th Amendment shortly after a string of cases regarding state sovereignty.

    Stability is not in making the picks "fair" to both sides. Good justices are invaluable and I see no reason why we should force one to step down because it's the next president's "turn" to pick one. Stability would be in creating further checks against politicizing the bench. Real reform would come in having the separate District courts nominate one of their own. The President would have his short list provided (one nominated from each district) and make his selection from that group.

    The judiciary should be reformed in a direction toward insulation and away from the shifting winds in the halls of Congress.

    We (as liberals) cannot delude ourselves to believe that the current SCOTUS is stacked against us because of any Republican stacking of the deck. We didn't turn out to vote for Hillary, and we lost badly because of it. Elections have consequences, adding term limits is a suggestion that loser's make and it will be interpreted that way by the public at large.
    Last edited by a completely inoffensive name; 10-12-2018 at 06:09.
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  9. #9

    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    Quote Originally Posted by a completely inoffensive name View Post
    Everyone knew the deal with the SCOTUS, but because of time and patience the Constitutional Convention only made Article 3 a skeleton article. Perhaps no one really had any idea of what to do with it in the first place and let future Congressmen sort it out.

    But Marbury vs Madison and the advent of Judicial Review is the law of the land, and a fundamental part of Constitutional law despite its absence in the text. No Congress has seriously attempted at making the type of reforms you bring up for 200 years. Early presidents defied their rulings, but now even they have been tamed (since FDR at least). Everyone likes SCOTUS the most of the three branches because it is by far the most technocratic. With the exception of very late twentieth century to present day picks, judges were competent and prestigious in their field.

    The SCOTUS has become what the Founder's tacitly approved of since they did not fight the expansion of the court's power of Judicial Review in the early 19th century. And that was a time when they were not hesitant to define SCOTUS role since they did pass the 11th Amendment shortly after a string of cases regarding state sovereignty.

    Stability is not in making the picks "fair" to both sides. Good justices are invaluable and I see no reason why we should force one to step down because it's the next president's "turn" to pick one. Stability would be in creating further checks against politicizing the bench. Real reform would come in having the separate District courts nominate one of their own. The President would have his short list provided (one nominated from each district) and make his selection from that group.

    The judiciary should be reformed in a direction toward insulation and away from the shifting winds in the halls of Congress.

    We (as liberals) cannot delude ourselves to believe that the current SCOTUS is stacked against us because of any Republican stacking of the deck. We didn't turn out to vote for Hillary, and we lost badly because of it. Elections have consequences, adding term limits is a suggestion that loser's make and it will be interpreted that way by the public at large.
    Complications:

    1. Who cares what the Founders wanted? Let's get things done on their merits.
    2. The Supreme Court has almost always been overwhelmingly reactionary. Liberals only respect it because it was merely 'somewhat conservative' during the 50s and 60s.
    3. The Supreme Court has always been political in its appointment, and speaking abstractly of "checks" in the modern environment requires detachment from reality.
    4. The only value of institutions is in their fruits. Why should we value a hypothetical stability that promises only loathsome results?
    5. The contemporary Republican Party and the Federalist movement offer conclusive proof for the necessity and effectiveness of vanguard politics.
    6. The American left needs to pass sweeping social and economic reforms in the medium-term. If 5 Republicans can block all of these, we have two options:
    a. Pack up, go home, get wasted as we slouch toward oblivion.
    b. Defy the courts.

    I think the more reasonable option is to act early and reform the courts.
    Last edited by Montmorency; 10-12-2018 at 06:26.
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    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    I'm lazy with formatting, so responses in bold.
    Quote Originally Posted by Montmorency View Post
    Complications:

    1. Who cares what the Founders wanted? Let's get things done on their merits.
    Because we must work within the framework provided by the Framers. This framework was built with specific aspects and distribution of powers. Any reforms must be carefully thought through and able to conform within the basic framework provided. Most attempts at radical reform do not do this, if we want to make the SCOTUS anew we will need to make a brand new Constitution. If I was a car guy, this is where I would make some point about how you can't keep swapping parts out to make a Toyota Corolla into a Ferrari or something.
    2. The Supreme Court has almost always been overwhelmingly reactionary. Liberals only respect it because it was merely 'somewhat conservative' during the 50s and 60s.
    The power of Judicial Review is inherently a reactionary power. Without a SCOTUS to say no, anything Congress passes is Constitutional. This branch is respected by liberals because its reactionary nature tempers all manners of reform, not just the left. Where the respect was lost has been due to its activist conservatives of the past 30 years.
    3. The Supreme Court has always been political in its appointment, and speaking abstractly of "checks" in the modern environment requires detachment from reality.
    The Supreme Court has always been picked by politicians, but the degree to which the picks are political corresponds to the degree to which politicians obeyed parliamentary norms and behaviors. I don't see how the idea of checks is somehow detached from reality when "checks" are the only thing right now preventing the Republican party from ceding all political power to Trump.
    4. The only value of institutions is in their fruits. Why should we value a hypothetical stability that promises only loathsome results?
    This is as detached a statement as anyone could make. A stable form of government is the only form in which real social and political progress can be made and held, even if its results are mediocre to begin with. I would rather take another 200 years of divided government under this current form, then live under a liberal dictator.
    5. The contemporary Republican Party and the Federalist movement offer conclusive proof for the necessity and effectiveness of vanguard politics.
    The contemporary Republican Party and the Federalist movement offer conclusive proof for the necessity of the left to leave behind its cynicism and apathy, nothing more. The left and right would be in opposite positions today due to the sheer demographic changes of the past 50 years if the left had simply engaged themselves within the current structure.
    6. The American left needs to pass sweeping social and economic reforms in the medium-term. If 5 Republicans can block all of these, we have two options:
    a. Pack up, go home, get wasted as we slouch toward oblivion.
    b. Defy the courts.
    We have seen this situation already when the SCOTUS blocked FDR's New Deal programs. The power of the court lies in its legitimacy, since it has no power to enforce its own decisions. If 5 Republicans defy a clear mandate of the people spoken through their elected representatives based entirely on naked politics, then we defy the courts. It's been done before. But we must be clear that only when SCOTUS shows their hand and cedes its own legitimacy does the left defy them.
    I think the more reasonable option is to act early and reform the courts.
    I think we both agree the courts are in need of immediate reform, but what kind of reform is where we completely differ.
    In all these papers we see a love of honest work, an aversion to shams, a caution in the enunciation of conclusions, a distrust of rash generalizations and speculations based on uncertain premises. He was never anxious to add one more guess on doubtful matters in the hope of hitting the truth, or what might pass as such for a time, but was always ready to take infinite pains in the most careful testing of every theory. With these qualities was united a modesty which forbade the pushing of his own claims and desired no reputation except the unsought tribute of competent judges.

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    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    Call me an "incremental reformist" if you want, but I do think that the following would be a politically palatable start to reform the current SCOTUS selection.

    1. Appeals Courts for each district nominate one member each among them for the president to pick from.
    2. Constitutional Amendment to return the confirmation of all Federal judges to a 60 vote requirement (or a 60% equivalent of a larger Senate).
    3. A one month mandatory FBI investigation into the candidates background and financial history to provide a preliminary account of any conflicts of interest.
    In all these papers we see a love of honest work, an aversion to shams, a caution in the enunciation of conclusions, a distrust of rash generalizations and speculations based on uncertain premises. He was never anxious to add one more guess on doubtful matters in the hope of hitting the truth, or what might pass as such for a time, but was always ready to take infinite pains in the most careful testing of every theory. With these qualities was united a modesty which forbade the pushing of his own claims and desired no reputation except the unsought tribute of competent judges.

  12. #12

    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    Quote Originally Posted by a completely inoffensive name View Post
    I'm lazy with formatting, so responses in bold.


    I think we both agree the courts are in need of immediate reform, but what kind of reform is where we completely differ.
    The Constitution gives Congress the authority to rewrite the appellate power of the SCOTUS at will. This is within the framework of the Founders. As are Constitutional amendments, which we will also need. Right now, the courts are more powerful than they have ever been, the SCOTUS especially.

    Taney Court. Reconstruction era. Lochner Court. It is flat out wrong to claim that "tempers all manners of reform, not just the left." It's factually, historically wrong.

    I don't like this mindset. Employ the right norms, the mannered pretense, and the substance doesn't matter even if it's the same either way. You suggest the "checks" we need are a return to the old normative political discourse - except those are exactly the checks that have failed. Pretending not to be political is not what keeps Trump from seizing all power, that's the basic structure of government and American society - but even those restraints have been steadily eroded. Checks on Trump, the Republican Party, future authoritarians - those involve real change, not a patina of "civility" between elite stagehands.

    That's not the choice before us and you know it. How about, fucking around with the courts is on the path where we avoid either a left-wing or right-wing dictator? Not only do we have the opportunity to improve the institutions we have, but we must if we expect to avert or mitigate disaster. Stop thinking an institution is sound as it is just because it can be labeled with the word "institution".

    And how will engagement come about? The schema at least is simple: mass appeal and mobilization with a vanguard policy and political cohort. You need both. You need a popular, straightforward, agenda, and the meritorious and audacious policy to satisfy it and advance it to the next stage. Passing laws and putting them into effect is more important than playing nice with Republicans who couldn't care less about it.


    But we must be clear that only when SCOTUS shows their hand and cedes its own legitimacy does the left defy them.
    (Just to be clear, no president has really overtly defied the courts, though they have criticized them. The examples of Jackson, Lincoln, and FDR, as we discussed a few months ago, involve the courts proactively avoiding offending the government or enjoining them to act or not act in a specific way, for that purpose of maintaining their institutional integrity.)

    I agree with you here. Everything a revamped Democratic Party/progressive movement does has to be telegraphed, explained, and justified to the public. 'If we have these votes, we will pass this law. If the courts do X under Y, we will respond with Z.' That means setting out a great deal in advance, but reducing it to the simplest and most digestible components (e.g. you deserve healthcare, education, economic security, etc.). See

    "mass appeal and mobilization with a vanguard policy and political cohort. You need both. You need a popular, straightforward, agenda, and the meritorious and audacious policy to satisfy it and advance it to the next stage."

    One of the desirable aspects of vanguardism is also of course a unified message from the top.
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  13. #13

    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    Quote Originally Posted by a completely inoffensive name View Post
    Call me an "incremental reformist" if you want, but I do think that the following would be a politically palatable start to reform the current SCOTUS selection.

    1. Appeals Courts for each district nominate one member each among them for the president to pick from.
    2. Constitutional Amendment to return the confirmation of all Federal judges to a 60 vote requirement (or a 60% equivalent of a larger Senate).
    3. A one month mandatory FBI investigation into the candidates background and financial history to provide a preliminary account of any conflicts of interest.
    And who's going to pass this (60 votes to modify judicial framework)? You want to spend political capital, or wait until enough Democrats are elected, on something that shores up the SCOTUS and will have an effect only in decades? Not something that is actually superior to the current arrangement? At that point when you will actually have votes to pass something?

    You want the Republicans to call up a Constitutional Convention for the sake of a squickling supermajority requirement for SCOTUS confirmation?

    This is the problem with incrementalism. You reach for the mud and you end up 6 feet under.

    You need revolutionary incrementalism, a revolutionary long-term program with steady steps taken towards its milestones.
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    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    Quote Originally Posted by Montmorency View Post
    The Constitution gives Congress the authority to rewrite the appellate power of the SCOTUS at will. This is within the framework of the Founders. As are Constitutional amendments, which we will also need. Right now, the courts are more powerful than they have ever been, the SCOTUS especially.
    The Court in theory has ultimate authority over both branches since it could at a whim call any piece of legislature or presidential act unconstitutional. Such is the power of judicial review, it is a powerful weapon and its use or abuse rest solely on the character of the men and women on the bench. Going back to your moderate proposal, there is nothing preventing the SCOTUS from exercising the same degree of power it does today by setting up a structure of rotating chairs every 4 years.
    If we implement the more radical approach and devolve the power to cross-circuit panels all we have done is shift the battle one level down. The Republicans are already packing the appellate courts with unqualified hacks, mostly from vacancies deliberately left open by obstruction during Obama's terms. The issue from the left to me seems to be the inherent power of judicial review, not the structure in which wielded.

    Taney Court. Reconstruction era. Lochner Court. It is flat out wrong to claim that "tempers all manners of reform, not just the left." It's factually, historically wrong.
    It's not factually wrong, I am just being a bit disingenuous by ignoring the fact that the United States started as a semi-aristocratic, slave endorsing political entity. Most reform measures over the last 200 years were 'liberal' or 'leftist' due to the nature of the country and the trajectory of the political zeitgeist of the 19th and 20th centuries.

    As an aside, I would definitely consider gay marriage a conservative reform. Bans on gay marriage only took off in the late 1970s with the rise of political evangelicals in the Republican Party. Before then, there were no laws on the books stating yes or no for most states. The obstruction prior to the 1970s was social, not legal in nature (from my understanding). Constitutional bans among the states only really emerged in 2003 after Mass. legalized it. Despite being a clear platform of the Republican Party, Kennedy was a good judge and called it for what it was (although the reasoning to get there was a bit wonky from what I have read).


    I don't like this mindset. Employ the right norms, the mannered pretense, and the substance doesn't matter even if it's the same either way. You suggest the "checks" we need are a return to the old normative political discourse - except those are exactly the checks that have failed. Pretending not to be political is not what keeps Trump from seizing all power, that's the basic structure of government and American society - but even those restraints have been steadily eroded. Checks on Trump, the Republican Party, future authoritarians - those involve real change, not a patina of "civility" between elite stagehands.
    Most of what we considered "checks" were actually norms and norms erode. Codification of the norms (through a means more permanent than the House/Senate's internal 'rules') could force a return to twentieth century discourse or foster innovation among state policies due to Federal inaction. At the very least, the failure of codifying norms provides legitimacy to your notion of vanguard politics, since any of the radical proposals you suggest at this point of time will be seen as inherently political in intent and tyrannical in nature.

    That's not the choice before us and you know it. How about, fucking around with the courts is on the path where we avoid either a left-wing or right-wing dictator? Not only do we have the opportunity to improve the institutions we have, but we must if we expect to avert or mitigate disaster. Stop thinking an institution is sound as it is just because it can be labeled with the word "institution".
    I have no issues with improving what we have, but the reality is that there is always, always a gap between what is needed and what can be reasonably accomplished. The US was able to advance an internal policy of containment towards slavery through several distasteful compromises in the early to mid 19th century. The compromises bought time and curtailed the ability of slavery to grow west by trading territories and Senate seats, these compromises allowed the north to become more powerful than its southern neighbors, so that when the abolitionist movement grew impatient in the 1950s and went for the kill, the US had the internal strength to purge slavery by force. A Civil War circa 1820 or 1790 would have been a guaranteed dissolution of the union.

    And how will engagement come about? The schema at least is simple: mass appeal and mobilization with a vanguard policy and political cohort. You need both. You need a popular, straightforward, agenda, and the meritorious and audacious policy to satisfy it and advance it to the next stage. Passing laws and putting them into effect is more important than playing nice with Republicans who couldn't care less about it.
    Yes, and I agree with all of this. Again, I feel we may be talking past each other here. It's not the need for reform I am opposing, but the degree to which the left can push the electorate at large, and the conservatives for that matter while still maintaining legitimacy. Shoot too high and you will all too easily be painted as the US version of Latin American style socialism.


    (Just to be clear, no president has really overtly defied the courts, though they have criticized them. The examples of Jackson, Lincoln, and FDR, as we discussed a few months ago, involve the courts proactively avoiding offending the government or enjoining them to act or not act in a specific way, for that purpose of maintaining their institutional integrity.)

    I agree with you here. Everything a revamped Democratic Party/progressive movement does has to be telegraphed, explained, and justified to the public. 'If we have these votes, we will pass this law. If the courts do X under Y, we will respond with Z.' That means setting out a great deal in advance, but reducing it to the simplest and most digestible components (e.g. you deserve healthcare, education, economic security, etc.). See

    "mass appeal and mobilization with a vanguard policy and political cohort. You need both. You need a popular, straightforward, agenda, and the meritorious and audacious policy to satisfy it and advance it to the next stage."

    One of the desirable aspects of vanguardism is also of course a unified message from the top.
    No disagreement on this. Do you have to use the word vanguardism though? Are you pushing for a Leninist revolution?
    In all these papers we see a love of honest work, an aversion to shams, a caution in the enunciation of conclusions, a distrust of rash generalizations and speculations based on uncertain premises. He was never anxious to add one more guess on doubtful matters in the hope of hitting the truth, or what might pass as such for a time, but was always ready to take infinite pains in the most careful testing of every theory. With these qualities was united a modesty which forbade the pushing of his own claims and desired no reputation except the unsought tribute of competent judges.

  15. #15

    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    The Court in theory has ultimate authority over both branches since it could at a whim call any piece of legislature or presidential act unconstitutional. Such is the power of judicial review, it is a powerful weapon and its use or abuse rest solely on the character of the men and women on the bench. Going back to your moderate proposal, there is nothing preventing the SCOTUS from exercising the same degree of power it does today by setting up a structure of rotating chairs every 4 years.
    If we implement the more radical approach and devolve the power to cross-circuit panels all we have done is shift the battle one level down. The Republicans are already packing the appellate courts with unqualified hacks, mostly from vacancies deliberately left open by obstruction during Obama's terms. The issue from the left to me seems to be the inherent power of judicial review, not the structure in which wielded.
    Well, not quite. Such a nakedly partisan act would be equivalent to a declaration of war unlike any the Court has ever offered. Transparently, rearranging the appellate functions of the SCOTUS or its make-up are explicitly provided for in the Constitution, at Congress' discretion. For the SCOTUS to reject this power would be a quasi-coup. The Supreme Court has arrogated a lot of power to itself, not least in fabricating the doctrines of prosecutorial, judicial, and law enforcement immunities, and they've shored themselves up by proxy through consistently expanding available executive authority (which the Republican court now is especially poised to further with its Unitary Executive theory)... but Congress is not inferior to the courts, it is co-equal.

    Check out this oldish article about the Voting Rights Act jurisprudence. I'll give you the upshot:

    After the transition from the Warren Court, the Supreme Court began striking down elements of the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts. So, on three separate occasions - 1982, 1988, 1991 - the Democratic Congress updated these laws and said 'FUCK the Supreme Court". They explicitly overrode specific Supreme Court rulings and added protections. We need some of that today. Get Congress back in shape.

    We need a court system of some kind at the federal level, and shifting the balance down a level just has few downsides.

    Judicial review in theory is not the problem, though perhaps there are better arguments I am not aware of. The structure itself of the Courts is an immediately recognizable problem, and taking steps in the right direction is, again, merited by definition. Unless you believe that political capital is better spent on a yet more radical reform from the outset - something like the arguments against both Medicare for All and the ACA - that would be one thing, but it doesn't seem to be your position.

    It's not factually wrong, I am just being a bit disingenuous by ignoring the fact that the United States started as a semi-aristocratic, slave endorsing political entity. Most reform measures over the last 200 years were 'liberal' or 'leftist' due to the nature of the country and the trajectory of the political zeitgeist of the 19th and 20th centuries.
    Here's what I mean: the Supreme Court has not only consistently acted to suppress progressive reforms and movements, it has actively aided and abetted conservative ones, pro-business ones, racist ones, etc. For virtually all its history. The Supreme Court has never been the friend of the Left, and to act as though the Supreme Court was some bulwark against reactionary depredations is just laughably ahistorical. I don't see how you can contest this.

    Most of what we considered "checks" were actually norms and norms erode. Codification of the norms (through a means more permanent than the House/Senate's internal 'rules') could force a return to twentieth century discourse or foster innovation among state policies due to Federal inaction.
    There's no reason to believe that. Codified checks should preserve rights and mitigate against despotic behavior. The Republican agenda is clearly just to entrench their power at all costs until they can present a fait accompli.

    At the very least, the failure of codifying norms provides legitimacy to your notion of vanguard politics, since any of the radical proposals you suggest at this point of time will be seen as inherently political in intent and tyrannical in nature.
    The Republicans would paint it that way, sure. Doesn't make it true. Allowing majorities -
    and I remind you most of the Founders were explicitly pro-majoritarian, requiring supermajorities only in the 5 cases of ratification of a treaty, override of a veto, votes of impeachment, passage of the Constitutional amendment, and expulsion of a member -
    to elect Democrats who will then pass major legislation is not tyrannical unless you're already someone who absolutely hates the direction of the country post-1920s. More freedoms, more rights, more direct action by more citizens, is only tyrannical in the conservative mindset of the absolute and divine/natural right of a select elite.

    I have no issues with improving what we have, but the reality is that there is always, always a gap between what is needed and what can be reasonably accomplished. The US was able to advance an internal policy of containment towards slavery through several distasteful compromises in the early to mid 19th century. The compromises bought time and curtailed the ability of slavery to grow west by trading territories and Senate seats, these compromises allowed the north to become more powerful than its southern neighbors, so that when the abolitionist movement grew impatient in the 1950s and went for the kill, the US had the internal strength to purge slavery by force. A Civil War circa 1820 or 1790 would have been a guaranteed dissolution of the union.
    That's kind of silly. It sounds almost like you're ascribing agency or strategy to these political decisions. The fact of civil rights was merely, and sadly, that the radicalism of the Radical Republicans was not so strong as the Southern White's conviction in white supremacy. The culture had to change first, and change could only come over millions of broken black bodies over generations. Or, depending on your ideological orientation, the development of industrial economics, mass immigration, and the exigencies of total wars - but cultural change is the ultimate product and deciding factor regardless.

    As far as alternate history of antebellum America, I'll point out to you that the institution of slavery was much weaker in the South in those times than it was in 1860, when it was so all-consuming that the planter-class came to demand secession for the pursuit of unlimited Lebensraum in the Americas. Furthermore, the Civil War was inevitable in any circumstance because there could not be two competing powers in that space as a geopolitical paradox, they would come into conflict as surely as Germany and Russia. One way, one time, or another.

    If the way things happened had to happen, it's because of physical determinism, not because that just was most optimal procession toward black rights.

    Make your own luck, and make your own history. The Readjusters failed in Virginia, for example. Did they fail in vain, really? I think not. Decent America has had its heart broken too many times to stop now.

    Yes, and I agree with all of this. Again, I feel we may be talking past each other here. It's not the need for reform I am opposing, but the degree to which the left can push the electorate at large, and the conservatives for that matter while still maintaining legitimacy. Shoot too high and you will all too easily be painted as the US version of Latin American style socialism.
    Bernie Sanders and his movement, whom I name because they're the most well-recognized on the Left, are the revival of New Deal liberalism. New Deal liberalism is and has always been supported by the majority of the population. For all we know that's where it will sputter and die, just like a century ago. Let's take it one step at a time, while acknowledging the deepening global emergency, before we start hand-wringing about what may or may not eventually look like "going too far" to the electorate. Advance the arguments that need to be advanced, you can't convince people of what you're hiding from them.

    No disagreement on this. Do you have to use the word vanguardism though? Are you pushing for a Leninist revolution?
    I'm just using it in a general sense, where a political elite tries to change the political culture from the top-down. Moderates and Rockefeller Republicans like Eisenhower were consistently defeated starting in the 1960s, and there is a straight line from the Goldwaters and Friedmans to the Reagans and Gingriches to the Trumps and, holy cow, literal fascists.

    Take a listen to this Radiolab episode about guns in America, the contemporary 2nd Amendment jurisprudence, and the transformation of the NRA. Listen to one of the founders explaining how the radicals seized the NRA on one fateful day in the 1970s. It's about from 20:00 to 35:00. When I listened to this, it was fucking chilling. It felt like Russia 1917, Germany 1933, Cuba 1961. Listen to that shit and you will viscerally identify it with the label "vanguard".

    The whole episode is a testament to the success of Republican vanguardism. And, speaking of Lenin, recall that Bannon has called himself a Leninist vanguardist (except opposite of Communist). Convinced yet?


    Miscellaneous:

    1. If one were interested in the institutional integrity of SCOTUS, and in bipartisanship, for its own sake, then instituting term limits would actually be one of the most ideal technocratic proposals, and AFAIK it's one of the few consensuses between center-left and center-right intellectuals (if not politicians). That's why I think it can be a chit for Democrats (though not the object in itself).

    2. We shouldn't put stock in the institutional integrity of SCOTUS, for reasons outlined above. We have to disabuse ourselves of our tendency to become wrapped up in the genteel, sober, ritualized world of the Court’s chambers, and forget the human consequences of the work that is done there. Maybe Ginsburg and Scalia could be drinking buddies, but crucially they could afford to be.
    Last edited by Montmorency; 10-14-2018 at 00:14.
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    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    Quote Originally Posted by Montmorency View Post
    Well, not quite. Such a nakedly partisan act would be equivalent to a declaration of war unlike any the Court has ever offered. Transparently, rearranging the appellate functions of the SCOTUS or its make-up are explicitly provided for in the Constitution, at Congress' discretion. For the SCOTUS to reject this power would be a quasi-coup. The Supreme Court has arrogated a lot of power to itself, not least in fabricating the doctrines of prosecutorial, judicial, and law enforcement immunities, and they've shored themselves up by proxy through consistently expanding available executive authority (which the Republican court now is especially poised to further with its Unitary Executive theory)... but Congress is not inferior to the courts, it is co-equal.
    I think you might be putting emphasis on the text too much here. Much of my view point expressed here is based on a perspective that all law, even the US Constitution, holds weight to the degree it (or its invocation) is seen as legitimate. Under this view point, even methods allowed in the text of the Constitution may be non-starters simply from its disuse over the years. Just as I would caution against rampant impeachment since it would be seen as a political coup, I would caution against attempts at using Congress to re-build the court system. SCOTUS in my opinion already performed its coup in Marbury, much to Jefferson's distaste, it is the system we have and give legitimacy to. Your method would achieve results in a world where you somehow beat the Republican party at its main strength, Public Relations. Anything else than cultural dominance would result in fractured nation which tends to be harder to rebuild (putting more bricks on a crumbling foundation) than it would be to simply reform with long term goals in mind. If you have an argument on how you can thread that needle can convince enough people that the problem requires dissolution and complete restructuring of an entire branch of government, then I would be more enthusiastic towards your view.

    Judicial review in theory is not the problem, though perhaps there are better arguments I am not aware of. The structure itself of the Courts is an immediately recognizable problem, and taking steps in the right direction is, again, merited by definition. Unless you believe that political capital is better spent on a yet more radical reform from the outset - something like the arguments against both Medicare for All and the ACA - that would be one thing, but it doesn't seem to be your position.
    We wouldn't even be having this conversation if liberals showed up to vote in 2000, 2004, and 2016. Can't call the current system broken simply because you are losing, any structure you can think of devolving the authority from 9 men and women means nothing if liberals never bother to vote for the men and women who will be picking federal judges when spots open up.

    Here's what I mean: the Supreme Court has not only consistently acted to suppress progressive reforms and movements, it has actively aided and abetted conservative ones, pro-business ones, racist ones, etc. For virtually all its history. The Supreme Court has never been the friend of the Left, and to act as though the Supreme Court was some bulwark against reactionary depredations is just laughably ahistorical. I don't see how you can contest this.
    And when by accident, SCOTUS members picked for their conservative nature turned leftward during the Warren Years, we got the Right to Privacy (not mentioned in the Constitution), New York Times v Sullivan, Baker v Carr, Brown v Board of Ed, Miranda, etc.

    So no, you are factually wrong when you say never a friend of the Left. The Court has been 95% of the time an enemy (or at least an obstacle) because the left's internal distaste for concentration of power among a select few undermined its resolve to capture said body form the conservatives and left it blind to attacks from the activist Right.

    There's no reason to believe that. Codified checks should preserve rights and mitigate against despotic behavior. The Republican agenda is clearly just to entrench their power at all costs until they can present a fait accompli.
    There is no reason to believe any of your radical proposals would bring anything except civil strife. At the end of the day, we are all just throwing ideas at the wall to make the inevitable occur sooner rather than later. What I mean by that is that even the Republican agenda, as successful as it has been at keeping the party politically relevant for the near past and future has a demographic wall they will continue to climb until only less than an absolute oligarchical government for the white and wealthy will keep the minorities out. Radical reform is not necessary, when simply holding the line for the next 20-30 years in sufficient.

    As an aside, this is same reasoning for why I disagree with those who claim that the 21st is 'China's Century'. Even if they manage to achieve complete parity with the US economically, militarily and politically by mid century they have their own demographic timebomb (and potential economic mismanagement) which is only growing while America's historical proclivity for immigration has suppressed the average age of US citizens.

    The Republicans would paint it that way, sure. Doesn't make it true. Allowing majorities -
    and I remind you most of the Founders were explicitly pro-majoritarian, requiring supermajorities only in the 5 cases of ratification of a treaty, override of a veto, votes of impeachment, passage of the Constitutional amendment, and expulsion of a member -
    to elect Democrats who will then pass major legislation is not tyrannical unless you're already someone who absolutely hates the direction of the country post-1920s. More freedoms, more rights, more direct action by more citizens, is only tyrannical in the conservative mindset of the absolute and divine/natural right of a select elite.
    I think in this day and age, the 'Image' is Reality. I am not sure you want to admit to yourself that the American public as a generalized whole thinks of the world through a center right image, the lasting legacy of using a Hollywood actor to undermine faith in our institutions. Although, the younger generations have increasingly deviated from this as shown in recent events in the Democratic party.


    That's kind of silly. It sounds almost like you're ascribing agency or strategy to these political decisions. The fact of civil rights was merely, and sadly, that the radicalism of the Radical Republicans was not so strong as the Southern White's conviction in white supremacy. The culture had to change first, and change could only come over millions of broken black bodies over generations. Or, depending on your ideological orientation, the development of industrial economics, mass immigration, and the exigencies of total wars - but cultural change is the ultimate product and deciding factor regardless.
    Are you suggesting that there was no strategy behind the Missouri Compromise? Thinking of politics as nothing more than a clash of convictions until exhaustion seems silly to me. Maybe that's why Stellaris is frustrating me...

    As far as alternate history of antebellum America, I'll point out to you that the institution of slavery was much weaker in the South in those times than it was in 1860, when it was so all-consuming that the planter-class came to demand secession for the pursuit of unlimited Lebensraum in the Americas. Furthermore, the Civil War was inevitable in any circumstance because there could not be two competing powers in that space as a geopolitical paradox, they would come into conflict as surely as Germany and Russia. One way, one time, or another.
    I don't have a good answer to this, so I will respond with a joke.

    Ron Paul 2008: "THE NORTH COULD HAVE SIMPLY BOUGHT UP ALL THE SLAVES!"

    If the way things happened had to happen, it's because of physical determinism, not because that just was most optimal procession toward black rights.
    The climate of the South hasn't changed since 1860, are we determined to have another Civil War between the egalitarians and elitists?

    Bernie Sanders and his movement, whom I name because they're the most well-recognized on the Left, are the revival of New Deal liberalism. New Deal liberalism is and has always been supported by the majority of the population. For all we know that's where it will sputter and die, just like a century ago. Let's take it one step at a time, while acknowledging the deepening global emergency, before we start hand-wringing about what may or may not eventually look like "going too far" to the electorate. Advance the arguments that need to be advanced, you can't convince people of what you're hiding from them.
    I am just not convinced of this sentiment. If the population always supported New Deal Liberalism, then why did Ronald "Government is the Problem" win the biggest landsides since FDR? Why has enrollment in Labor Unions continued to decline? Why do 40-49% of Americans consistently vote for a party whose main tenant is "small government"? The Left thinks they have won the culture wars, when they have only really won a handful of battles on shaky ground.

    The whole episode is a testament to the success of Republican vanguardism. And, speaking of Lenin, recall that Bannon has called himself a Leninist vanguardist (except opposite of Communist). Convinced yet?
    No, that dude is literally batshit crazy and all he has done so far is perpetuate mental illness among the youth and destabilize systems he does not have the clout to control or replace.
    If it wasn't for his brief stint in the White House, he would be no different than any of the Yellow Journalists of the late 19th.

    1. If one were interested in the institutional integrity of SCOTUS, and in bipartisanship, for its own sake, then instituting term limits would actually be one of the most ideal technocratic proposals, and AFAIK it's one of the few consensuses between center-left and center-right intellectuals (if not politicians). That's why I think it can be a chit for Democrats (though not the object in itself).
    This is not going to be the panacea the left is deluding itself into believing. Once the liberals shit the bed and let the next Republican replace Kagan/RBG/Sotomayor with some shill because it's "fair" we will all be crying about it like it wasn't our own fault.
    Voting consistently is a more effective method towards shifting SCOTUS into something that liberals want.

    2. We shouldn't put stock in the institutional integrity of SCOTUS, for reasons outlined above. We have to disabuse ourselves of our tendency to become wrapped up in the genteel, sober, ritualized world of the Court’s chambers, and forget the human consequences of the work that is done there. Maybe Ginsburg and Scalia could be drinking buddies, but crucially they could afford to be.
    We can't have an entire government run on feels. Congress is already where human consequences are discussed and emotions run hot, let the legal profession keep its rituals and detached nature.
    In all these papers we see a love of honest work, an aversion to shams, a caution in the enunciation of conclusions, a distrust of rash generalizations and speculations based on uncertain premises. He was never anxious to add one more guess on doubtful matters in the hope of hitting the truth, or what might pass as such for a time, but was always ready to take infinite pains in the most careful testing of every theory. With these qualities was united a modesty which forbade the pushing of his own claims and desired no reputation except the unsought tribute of competent judges.

  17. #17

    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    I'll edit this post later with a full response, but I just want to point out that Republicans are already trying to pack the state courts of West Virginia and Florida. In the former, they just impeached the entire Supreme Court for corruption (also known as the Rousseff Maneuver), and in Florida Rick Scott would like to fill emptying seats on midnight of inauguration day, i.e. regardless of whether the Republican candidate wins. In North Carolina, there is a constitutional amendment on the ballot Election Day that would allow legislators to directly appoint to the vacant seats on the judiciary (justices are currently elected popularly), likely in conjunction with legislation to expand the size of the Supreme Court.

    https://truthout.org/articles/state-...packing-plans/
    http://theweek.com/articles/795769/a...erious-trouble

    And recall when, early in the year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled against a gerrymandered Republican map, and state Republicans threatened to impeach them?

    http://www2.philly.com/philly/news/p...-20180615.html

    And in the Senate last year, the Republicans got rid of the blue slip rule that Democrats had reverently honored and refused to take advantage of on behalf of Republicans under Obama. The rule allowed Senators to veto candidates that would be seated in their home state. (Pat Leahy in 2012 stated, "As Chairman of this Committee, I have steadfastly protected the rights of the minority.") During Obama's second term, Senate Republicans famously wielded it as a veto to block numerous Democratic candidates and force the appointment of conservatives.

    So, that's just to put paid to the idea that Democratic court-packing will accelerate the timetable for Republican escalations. This is happening now, and it will get worse. The idea that Democrats should reinstitute the judicial filibuster, both on its own merits and in trust that Republicans wouldn't just revoke it the next time they hold a majority, is a lollercoaster.

    --------------
    Last edited by Montmorency; 10-21-2018 at 05:49.
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    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    I really hope the Democrats will be able to step up their game and start winning elections because otherwise it seems like we're headed towards authoritarian one-party rule.

  19. #19

    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    I accidentally a whole post

    --------------

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    I think you might be putting emphasis on the text too much here. Much of my view point expressed here is based on a perspective that all law, even the US Constitution, holds weight to the degree it (or its invocation) is seen as legitimate. Under this view point, even methods allowed in the text of the Constitution may be non-starters simply from its disuse over the years. Just as I would caution against rampant impeachment since it would be seen as a political coup, I would caution against attempts at using Congress to re-build the court system. SCOTUS in my opinion already performed its coup in Marbury, much to Jefferson's distaste, it is the system we have and give legitimacy to. Your method would achieve results in a world where you somehow beat the Republican party at its main strength, Public Relations. Anything else than cultural dominance would result in fractured nation which tends to be harder to rebuild (putting more bricks on a crumbling foundation) than it would be to simply reform with long term goals in mind. If you have an argument on how you can thread that needle can convince enough people that the problem requires dissolution and complete restructuring of an entire branch of government, then I would be more enthusiastic towards your view.
    You will notice that we are already living through a crisis of legitimacy and a fractured nation. Put simply, success confers legitimacy. Precisely why, for example, we should not treat it as normal that millions of voters may be disenfranchised at will through bureaucratic hat tricks.

    You have to realize that your priority is nuts here. It's like chastising a person trying to flee a collapsing building because that would be somehow disrespectful to its edifice. You're telling me that nothing can be changed, and we more or less must accept any change that radicals impose upon us because challenging them would be illegitimate. Every transformational reform, no matter what the process, the exertion of popular will, or the outcome. It reminds me of the libertarians who detract the legitimacy of every constitutional amendment or major federal legislation in the past 200 years. You're imagining a Kafka-esque world here.

    Concretely, making a straightforward reform of the SCOTUS on the order of added justices would gladden Democrats at least as much as it would infuriate Republicans, who already make a plank out of seeking to dominate the courts. Remember that swing voting is at an all-time low of ~5%. That is, IIRC 5% of voters in the 2016 election who voted a major party candidate in the 2012 elections switched parties.

    Convincing people takes time, of course. Reforms doesn't happen overnight. Republicans have the advantage in public relations because they have a steely commitment to a narrow agenda, and billions of dollars. The Democrats, especially if they throw off the weight of their financial industry donors, will be forced to adopt their own digestible radical program for the country, relying on grassroots activists and the Internet to transmit it - because the mass media won't. What you should realize is that if Dems don't accomplish this, they won't be able to implement any reforms, let alone whatever piddling aimless increments you could suggest. The policy and the politics are distinct, and they are co-requisite. Don't ever think it's not an uphill struggle.

    The picture you should have in your head of what an effective "legitimate" Democratic Congress run by the left looks like is the New Deal and Reconstruction: 70% of both chambers. That's revolution. Until then, eliminate the filibuster and pass laws. (Pro-tip: You can't gain more power without a track record of success, so abolishing the filibuster is just another prerequisite.)

    We wouldn't even be having this conversation if liberals showed up to vote in 2000, 2004, and 2016. Can't call the current system broken simply because you are losing, any structure you can think of devolving the authority from 9 men and women means nothing if liberals never bother to vote for the men and women who will be picking federal judges when spots open up.
    This is a little misguided. Low turnout is itself a testament to a broken system. When you have successful structural attacks on the franchise on top of that, you're seeing the mallet in action. E.g. 2000, 2016. E.g. Democrats, if the current system were frozen, would always need something like 1.1 votes for every Republican vote just to break even in federal representation. Obviously that should be remedied as soon as possible, there is simply no reason to tolerate it. Bad ideas don't need our obsequiousness, they need obsequies. Logically, massive turnout will then be necessary merely to begin turn things around, numbers too great to manipulate or suppress; in that sense I agree with you. It's much more difficult than you let on, however, and this is by design.

    Apparently the majority of millenials are self-reporting a definite commitment to vote in midterms. We'll see. If 70% of Millenial women are Democratic voters, maybe the future is female.

    And when by accident, SCOTUS members picked for their conservative nature turned leftward during the Warren Years, we got the Right to Privacy (not mentioned in the Constitution), New York Times v Sullivan, Baker v Carr, Brown v Board of Ed, Miranda, etc.

    So no, you are factually wrong when you say never a friend of the Left. The Court has been 95% of the time an enemy (or at least an obstacle) because the left's internal distaste for concentration of power among a select few undermined its resolve to capture said body form the conservatives and left it blind to attacks from the activist Right.
    Listen, if you just emptied the court and sat a few dozen Marxist academics on it, I don't doubt that would... lead to changes. The mistake you're making is in how you're setting the goalposts. The Warren Court was a friend of the Left in the way that Mike Gorbachev was a friend of the United States. The Warren Court approved the general Keynesian liberal consensus on civil rights and government intervention. That this was an improvement over previous eras that constricted the humanity of the poor, the disabled, blacks, women, etc. can't be denied. But the way you refer to it makes it sound like they took a hard-left wishlist and went down the items, rather than putting imprimatur on positions that moderate Democrats and Republicans tended to agree on at the time. I'm uninformed on the issue, but I further recall something about (Dem-controlled) state courts paving the way for many of the landmark rulings; given that SCOTUS often takes trends in lower federal and state jurisprudence into account when rendering its decisions...

    There is no reason to believe any of your radical proposals would bring anything except civil strife. At the end of the day, we are all just throwing ideas at the wall to make the inevitable occur sooner rather than later. What I mean by that is that even the Republican agenda, as successful as it has been at keeping the party politically relevant for the near past and future has a demographic wall they will continue to climb until only less than an absolute oligarchical government for the white and wealthy will keep the minorities out. Radical reform is not necessary, when simply holding the line for the next 20-30 years in sufficient.

    As an aside, this is same reasoning for why I disagree with those who claim that the 21st is 'China's Century'. Even if they manage to achieve complete parity with the US economically, militarily and politically by mid century they have their own demographic timebomb (and potential economic mismanagement) which is only growing while America's historical proclivity for immigration has suppressed the average age of US citizens.
    There are no proposals from any party or movement that will not bring strife my dude, there's no way getting through this (if at all possible) without strife. No pain, no gain. Your problem is that you're too caught up in the carnival of post-historical performative politics, where it's easy to pretend that nothing really matters and no one really gets hurt.

    Holding the line is not possible - you haven't been living under a rock the past decade - both because of the Republican efforts and because of political, economic, and ecological changes worldwide. Holding the line is unjustifiable in itself because you are sacrificing the millions who need and could use relief, and could only be swallowed in the absence of alternatives. But begging the Republicans "please don't dissolve Social Security" is not going to save Social Security, universal income is going to save Social Security. Your conservative orientation is equivalent to abandoning the Sudetenland to Hitler because you're scared of "strife" when you're not even Czechoslovakia but America, and we have power yet to do more. Mobilizing for world war caused a lot of strife...

    TLDR: Not only is radical reform good on its own merits, it is necessary in order to maintain what we have.

    China doesn't really have a demographic timebomb except in the current international framework of expectations; as a totalitarian society they will adapt to it (the two-child policy being one early example). Indeed, the gross age distribution in China is pretty similar to that in the US right now. If you're making a general reference to absolute population size and popular unrest, sure, that will hamper their hegemony. They'll still control the West Pacific though, and have the economic clout to determine international economic relations and dismantle our alliances and partnerships. The 21st century is no one's century, doesn't mean power will cease to exist on the world stage.

    I think in this day and age, the 'Image' is Reality. I am not sure you want to admit to yourself that the American public as a generalized whole thinks of the world through a center right image, the lasting legacy of using a Hollywood actor to undermine faith in our institutions. Although, the younger generations have increasingly deviated from this as shown in recent events in the Democratic party.
    No. American foreign policy is one of the few consensus areas, so describing it as "center-right" is a misnomer. Only the extremes of Left and Right really see America as something other than imperial guardian/bully, see any limitations on American foreign policy ambitions and expectations, force projection, etc. The average Democrat really does only differ on the details with the average Republican when it comes to this. (Though given typical Republican voter pluralities or even majorities in favor of Dem or progressive policy proposals, the likely underlying factor is shared trans-partisan approval of fiscal activism. Everyone loves big government, and what's bigger than the military-security-industrial complex?)

    But do harp on one subject: Left foreign policy. Foreign policy and its alternatives remains one of the most underdeveloped planks of the radical Left's platform. As of now (besides various clever quasi-scholarly thinkers and writers), it kind of boils down to an understanding that "Imperialism le bad, mmkay?"This underdevelopment has to change. In sketch, a coherent strategic orientation for a Left-run America ought to involve both the rationing of violent coercion and a fundamental change in understanding of what American hegemony is supposed to be for/accomplishing (possibly repurposed to mobilize and collectivize the world against humanitarian and climate ordeals). And this has to be intelligibly, accurately, and convincingly presented to the American people, to the 1%, to the intelligentsia... something corporate mass media is utterly incapable of in any respect. Foreign policy is really the endgame for any sociopolitical revolution, because 'united we stand, divided we fall', and without a new global comity the best we can do is get universal healthcare fully operational just in time for mass resettlement of millions of displaced Americans, while millions more Latin American refugees crowd the south bank of the Rio Grande. A topic for another time.

    Are you suggesting that there was no strategy behind the Missouri Compromise? Thinking of politics as nothing more than a clash of convictions until exhaustion seems silly to me. Maybe that's why Stellaris is frustrating me...
    No and no? You were suggesting that these compromises formed a worthy and effective conscious strategy of "containment" of slavery until it could be dealt with comprehensively. That wasn't the design, and effectiveness is a matter of your selected reference point. Antebellum compromises were effective only in a very narrow sense of hotfixing the union together. Could something different have been done? Avoiding the question of metaphysics, only if you believe in great men who can pop in and clean shit up somehow independent of the mass of humanity. Maybe we thought this way fantasizing about how we would have led the empires of the ancient world relying on modern knowledge. But this doesn't make a historical event good or optimal, just extant. It certainly doesn't invite complacency in the present. All the years of the distant past don't count even as a second in our experience. In the present work is ongoing, the difference between physically building a house and clicking LMB a few times to build house.

    The climate of the South hasn't changed since 1860, are we determined to have another Civil War between the egalitarians and elitists?
    If there's a genuine civil war it will look like the Thirty Years War, and all of us will have already lost. However, it is unavoidable that Republican electorate, the Republican political class, and the brownshirt militias have to be overcome somehow. Here's my vision of 'bounded coercion'.

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    I am just not convinced of this sentiment. If the population always supported New Deal Liberalism, then why did Ronald "Government is the Problem" win the biggest landsides since FDR? Why has enrollment in Labor Unions continued to decline? Why do 40-49% of Americans consistently vote for a party whose main tenant is "small government"? The Left thinks they have won the culture wars, when they have only really won a handful of battles on shaky ground.
    Why uncritically accept the establishment Republican concept of American history and society? Below are some significant, though not exhaustive, factors:

    1. Because the Democratic Party embraced civil rights, the black vote, (Johnson) and austerity fiscal policy (Carter), whereas the Republicans embraced making white people and business elites feel good about themselves and America. Republican voters were never for "small government", and neither were Republican politicians if you look at their policies and statements. What the new Republicans resented was the inclusion of women and minorities in the social welfare scheme. You don't understand American politics if you don't understand that almost everyone but a few ideologues and academics wants muscular government on "their" behalf.
    2. Why did the strongest labor unions, in heavy manufacturing, crumble first, beginning in the 1970s? Big business saw their angle as women and blacks began to unionize en masse, and systematically degraded the power and prestige of unions through propaganda and lobbying.
    3. See above. See your comment about public relations. See my comments about Republican vanguardization and the cultivation of reactionary social mores among the Southern and Evangelical Christian populations.

    As the Democratic electorate has disengaged from the party, lost turnout has translated into lost votes. It's not far-fetched to believe that the Democrats need a cultural stimulus, partly in the form of sound transformative policy and appropriate messaging around it, to increase their votes.

    The plain fact of the matter is that most people in lower-income brackets consistently vote Democratic when they do vote. Economically anxious voters tended to vote Clinton, while economically-secure but racially/culturally-anxious voters tended to vote Trump.

    Even if most lower-income Republicans supported Medicare for All in principle, even if they came to do so in numbers similar to their Democratic peers , you simply could not "win over" many of them because of their prior assumptions and cultural commitments. Because to get this Medicare guff they would need to abandon the cohesive and comprehensive platform and worldview offered by the Republicans.

    A radical agenda and more participatory politics are exactly how the Left can win the culture wars, and - to hammer home my thesis - likely the only way.

    No, that dude is literally batshit crazy and all he has done so far is perpetuate mental illness among the youth and destabilize systems he does not have the clout to control or replace.
    If it wasn't for his brief stint in the White House, he would be no different than any of the Yellow Journalists of the late 19th.
    ACIN, didn't you read or listen to that stuff? Don't miss the Republican forest for the Bannon tree. This is in practice the Republican theory of political power. Bannon and the average Senate Republican are about as far apart ideologically as Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker.

    This is not going to be the panacea the left is deluding itself into believing. Once the liberals shit the bed and let the next Republican replace Kagan/RBG/Sotomayor with some shill because it's "fair" we will all be crying about it like it wasn't our own fault.
    Voting consistently is a more effective method towards shifting SCOTUS into something that liberals want.
    You need both. If you don't do the latter, the former is weakened and its impact subject to a higher threshold.

    If you think the costs of slightly accelerated Republican escalation are greater than the costs of current and ongoing Republican escalation and greater still than the benefits for the Democrats, I'm afraid you just haven't done a proper cost-benefit analysis. The Republicans maintain the filibuster only because it stays in their favor, just like with the SCOTUS nomination filibuster (until it didn't). The tax overhaul succeeded irrespective of the filibuster. The filibuster is not what stopped the ACA repeal. The potential good the Democrats can do unfettered far outweighs the pre-licensed bad of the Republicans, and moreover the voters will have the proof in the pudding.

    All mainstream Democrats like you AFAIK support maintaining the filibuster. If this keeps up, the Republicans will just do away with it on their own as soon as they see an advantage, and those Democrats won't even have the good grace to spin their heads in chagrin.

    We can't have an entire government run on feels. Congress is already where human consequences are discussed and emotions run hot, let the legal profession keep its rituals and detached nature.
    See, that's just my point that you've avoided. They're not detached but they feel detached, so you prioritize maintaining the feeling. Rituals have to serve some purpose and function. If you're defending rituals for the sake of rituals, you're defending a useless performativity because you're impressed by the show. But on the other hand, you can't devote yourself to some abstract function either, or you become like Jordan Peterson advocating a quasi-Christian resacralization of the social order because even fake religion will allegedly motivate the kind of social relations he prefers to see.

    Remember that political philosophy is ultimately another extension of thinking about the Good. If the fruits aren't good, don't fret over the feel of this or that branch, plant another tree. Or grow the fruits hydroponically in vertically-stacked layers, idk.


    @ACIN

    Yeah, I suppose we disagree on almost everything related to process. That's a shame.

    The course of this whole debate reminds me of the meeting between HG Wells and Joseph Stalin, except I'm HG Wells and you're the skittish conservative of the technical intelligentsia we're both bemoaning.
    Last edited by Montmorency; 10-23-2018 at 15:01.
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    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    Bit of a shame, yeah. Especially since I know you are more educated about these things than I am, so to see you take a more radical path of reform makes me anxious about the next five years.

    I wouldn't call myself a skittish conservative, you hurt me with that rhetoric. When the time comes I would join the 'vanguard' and march in the streets and canvass for bigger blue waves, if only to make sure this country stays democratic (the system, not the party) in form and not oligarchical. If it means a renovated court system and the dissolution of Federalism towards a more direct democracy, then so be it.

    Some parts of what you said in the last reply I think are either misunderstanding my poor verbiage (when I said 'the world' I meant their 'worldview' in a general philosophical sense, not about foreign policy specifically) or you are putting up some strawmen (I have not once said 'nothing can be changed' only that the degree to which the bulk of Americans tolerate change is tied to a public perception game that the GOP plays better at, and not tied to raw success as you put it). But maybe we should cool it with the multilayered quotes of each other and agree to disagree.

    As for this:
    China doesn't really have a demographic timebomb except in the current international framework of expectations; as a totalitarian society they will adapt to it (the two-child policy being one early example). Indeed, the gross age distribution in China is pretty similar to that in the US right now. If you're making a general reference to absolute population size and popular unrest, sure, that will hamper their hegemony. They'll still control the West Pacific though, and have the economic clout to determine international economic relations and dismantle our alliances and partnerships. The 21st century is no one's century, doesn't mean power will cease to exist on the world stage.
    China does have a demographic timebomb. The provinces are becoming more stratified as the coastal regions attract young people with shockingly low birth rates, while the rural areas have higher rates but lack the younger people to support the coming aging of the last generation. https://www.economist.com/china/2017...getting-deeper

    Their means of adapting through measured (but totalitarian) policies is disappearing under Xi's leadership. https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/10/15...rd-xi-jinping/

    China's top down government has so far failed in it's efforts to increase fertility by relaxing the one child policy.
    https://www.economist.com/china/2018...ulation-policy

    The country is setting itself up for mismanagement in several areas (fertility being just one), and if there is another great recession due for us this century the origin will be with China not the West.
    Last edited by a completely inoffensive name; 10-23-2018 at 21:17.
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    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    It's too late for them to fix the problem now imo, the damage is already done. The ratio of men to women is heavily in favor of men at this point, and will continue to get worse.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sooh View Post
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    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    Quote Originally Posted by a completely inoffensive name View Post
    Bit of a shame, yeah. Especially since I know you are more educated about these things than I am, so to see you take a more radical path of reform makes me anxious about the next five years.

    I wouldn't call myself a skittish conservative, you hurt me with that rhetoric. When the time comes I would join the 'vanguard' and march in the streets and canvass for bigger blue waves, if only to make sure this country stays democratic (the system, not the party) in form and not oligarchical. If it means a renovated court system and the dissolution of Federalism towards a more direct democracy, then so be it.

    Some parts of what you said in the last reply I think are either misunderstanding my poor verbiage (when I said 'the world' I meant their 'worldview' in a general philosophical sense, not about foreign policy specifically) or you are putting up some strawmen (I have not once said 'nothing can be changed' only that the degree to which the bulk of Americans tolerate change is tied to a public perception game that the GOP plays better at, and not tied to raw success as you put it). But maybe we should cool it with the multilayered quotes of each other and agree to disagree.

    As for this:


    China does have a demographic timebomb. The provinces are becoming more stratified as the coastal regions attract young people with shockingly low birth rates, while the rural areas have higher rates but lack the younger people to support the coming aging of the last generation. https://www.economist.com/china/2017...getting-deeper

    Their means of adapting through measured (but totalitarian) policies is disappearing under Xi's leadership. https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/10/15...rd-xi-jinping/

    China's top down government has so far failed in it's efforts to increase fertility by relaxing the one child policy.
    https://www.economist.com/china/2018...ulation-policy

    The country is setting itself up for mismanagement in several areas (fertility being just one), and if there is another great recession due for us this century the origin will be with China not the West.
    I don't think I'm particularly more educated than you are. I'm tempted to tell you that you should be more anxious, but that would be counterproductive.

    I'm glad to hear that. We usually focus on the vote in politics, but even in generous times the vote can only put a politician in office; a body multiplied is what compels them to adjust their priorities. We have our votes and our bodies, the latter applied not only when the former is ineffective but in standard-practice complement to it (which isn't reducible to sheer protest and marches but all physical activism). I'm too much of a self-inefficacious pussy for that, even still. And as we see time and again I have low stamina and competence in relatably unpacking complex arguments.

    About strawmen, I think it's not what you think you're saying, but it's a natural consequence of what you're saying. So it's framing consequences and not your first-order beliefs. At least in our time's particular circumstances. I agree that it's easy to get mired in individual sentences with this style of discourse. I'll leave you with the broad idea that I was emphasizing feedback effects and co-requisite processes and attainments in addressing your concerns. Obviously Dems need better messaging for instance, and a reducible coherent program - but starting by implementing big and popular reforms where there is momentum is how you develop these things and more (like philosophical narratives of context), which probably can't and won't be developed without bootstrapping some success, or else waiting until the shared pain in this country is so great that we're spontaneously rioting by the hundreds of thousands, and hoping a crueler and more desperate citizenry will salvage something of "progress".

    On China, you're describing regional disparities and every big country is increasingly sensitive to them. Since 2008 it's become perfectly clear that neither China is an exceptional country with unmitigated advantages. I don't necessarily have a problem with your signifier, but the significance of what's represented has to be precisely stated in its expected geopolitical effects. Whatever it is, it will probably circle around to the unique social problems of modern civilization, the roles of people and technology, and the purpose of life (as it seems to be doing everywhere; pure economics doesn't have complete relevance). Perhaps such philosophical questions too will become political as the prosperous consumer-oriented of the 20th century has to be abandoned or transformed over time. We will need to have a political formula, by the way, because the pre-modernist illiberal reactionaries have a lot to say on this topic of "post-politics", and if we don't believe in the ordering of life through strict hierarchy and symbolic and material discipline, we need to rally around an <insert lefty buzzword> alternative for post/post-post-modernity. Fascists are at least interested in some version of the modern project, but pre-modernists of the alt-right are like the Balrogs to their Urukhai and they eat "classical" liberals for breakfast.

    “There are older and fouler things than fascists in the deep places of the alt-right.”
    Here's an observation: after Nixon and Carter, after Mao, the US major parties shared with China an orientation toward consensus politics with President as selected chairman of party interests rather than an independent leader and thinker in their own right. In other words parties came to drive Presidents rather the other way around; what had suddenly become the Icarian trend throughout the 20th century and around the world seemed to be snuffed by stability-minded stakeholders. Now, with the resurgence of existential turmoil and authoritarianism and autocracy, Xi is upending that institutional arrangement just as Trump is (though he in a less focused way). It's happening all around the world, this reversion, isn't it? The "great men" are clawing back at the committees. Just an unconnected thought.

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    Last edited by Montmorency; 10-24-2018 at 04:16.
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    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    Court packing is hardly a new or even radical idea in American history. I find myself increasingly bristling at entrenched interests labeling any change as some type of massive deviation from the norm destined to sink the republic. McConnell effectively packed the court when he refused to hear Garland. The GOP bet is that this will simply blow over, however, that is quite the bet to make when Trump is the president.
    “I was not designed to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest.” -Thoreau

    My aim, then, was to whip the rebels, to humble their pride, to follow them to their inmost recesses, and make them fear and dread us. Fear is the beginning of wisdom.

    I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation.

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    Default Re: The Moderate Proposal for Court-Packing

    Quote Originally Posted by Strike For The South View Post
    Court packing is hardly a new or even radical idea in American history. I find myself increasingly bristling at entrenched interests labeling any change as some type of massive deviation from the norm destined to sink the republic. McConnell effectively packed the court when he refused to hear Garland. The GOP bet is that this will simply blow over, however, that is quite the bet to make when Trump is the president.
    Difference is that McConnell convinced the country it wasn't court packing. Even the language of the Dems is "stealing" which is a whiny word and not reflective of the general strategy.
    Arbitrarily making the court 11 or 15 justices has no PR cover and should only be done when the Dems have enough of a lead to maintain it. it is the last nail in the coffin not the opening salvo.
    In all these papers we see a love of honest work, an aversion to shams, a caution in the enunciation of conclusions, a distrust of rash generalizations and speculations based on uncertain premises. He was never anxious to add one more guess on doubtful matters in the hope of hitting the truth, or what might pass as such for a time, but was always ready to take infinite pains in the most careful testing of every theory. With these qualities was united a modesty which forbade the pushing of his own claims and desired no reputation except the unsought tribute of competent judges.

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