Numbers Game

I know I’ve said this before — in fact, I think it was two weeks ago — but timing is everything. For example, if you were designing the American government from scratch, how many justices would you put on the Supreme Court?

I bring this up, of course, because some Democrats have introduced legislation to expand the court from nine to 13 justices. This may sound political and outrageous but what’s so special about the number 9? If there had been two Supreme Court justices for a lot of years, nine would seem bonkers.

I don’t know whether 13 is better than nine. It sounds unlucky. Do we need more dissenting and concurring opinions because you know those extra justices are going to write them? They’ve got to have something to do.

Apparently, the rationale for this is that Republicans politicized the court by, among other things, refusing to confirm Merrick Garland and then ramming Amy Coney Barrett through the confirmation process. So the response to this is to politicize the court even more.

But wait. The press release from the Democrats proposing this change did have another numerical justification — there used to be nine federal circuits, but now there are 13.

“(T)he logic behind having only nine justices is much weaker today, when there are 13 circuits,” the release states. “Thirteen justices for thirteen circuits is a sensible progression.”

Logic? What exactly is this logic? Do federal circuits each need their own Supreme Court justice to care for them? How have they been surviving without the full attention of a parent?

There may be a hidden humanitarian crisis here. Circuit judges without role models to rely on could go rogue and end up on the streets.

Of course, the real reason for this expansion proposal is that the party that consistently gets fewer votes has gotten to pick most of the recent justices. So the real solution is for that to stop happening.

Instead of increasing the number of Supreme Court justices, all we need to do is increase the number of states.

Kentucky, home of everybody’s favorite hero or villain, for example, has a population of about 4.5 million. California, home to wild-eyed liberals, has a population of about 39.5 million. So, to make things fair, all you need to do is divide California into nine states with two senators each.

Wyoming needs to be merged into Utah, Idaho and Montana.

You get a fairer Senate and a fairer Electoral College.

Problem solved. Math is a wonderful thing.

The other side. For every tit there’s a tat. I know that sounds pornographic but I don’t mean it that way.

What I’m talking about is the Republican response to the court-expansion idea. They may have some interesting ideas of their own like the ones outlined in a Wall Street Journal editorial last week that ended with what could sound like a veiled threat if you read it out loud.

Read the following out loud while pretending to be a mob boss: “We want to be clear that we favor none of this, at least for now.”

But if you get out of line….

What the Journal doesn’t favor just yet but will favor if you get out of line is legislation that would strip the Supreme Court of jurisdiction over anything important. I guess the expanded group of justices would turn into a sort of royal family with no particular reason for existence.

The editorial offered a list of the kinds of cases that Congress could prevent the Court from hearing — stuff like immigration, “rights not expressly mentioned in the Constitution,” and “cases that seek to restrict political free speech by regulating campaign contributions.” You know, stuff that needs to be ignored.

Can you see what would come next?

Yep — circuit court judge packing and then removal of jurisdiction from circuit courts. The cycle continues until no court can do anything.

The Best Solution, however, is: Don’t let politicians pick judges. Don’t elect judges either. Remove politics from the process completely.

Only winners of essay contests should be allowed on the bench.

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