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Fact Check: In Pushing Court Packing, Ilhan Omar Mangles Facts

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Posted: Nov 02, 2020 1:05 PM
Fact Check: In Pushing Court Packing, Ilhan Omar Mangles Facts

Source: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Members of "The Squad" have come out strongly in favor of potential Democratic majorities engaging in court packing, a radical scheme to expand the number of US Supreme Court seats in order to install liberal justices. Joe Biden has refused to take a position on the issue, after decades of vehement opposition. The Democratic nominee says he'd put the question of court "reform" to a commission of experts, who would deliver recommendations after a six-month study. This is a classic Beltway punt that doesn't actually answer the fundamental underlying question of whether Biden would go along with packing if congressional Democrats have the votes to push it through.

Poll after poll has shown overwhelming public opposition to the idea, but the Democratic base strongly supports it, wrongly convinced that their party has been victimized by Republican hardball on this front (the opposite is actually true). One of the biggest political problems with the court packing push, beyond very low support for the concept, is that the American people do not believe there is any sort of "legitimacy crisis" plaguing the judiciary, and the Supreme Court in particular. Ramesh Ponnuru wrote about this a few weeks ago:

Not confirming Garland, the New York Times editorialized in 2016, could do “irreversible” damage to the court. Former Democratic Senator Russ Feingold said in 2017 that “the legitimacy of our highest court might never recover” if Republicans confirmed Gorsuch. And in 2018, Vox warned that Republicans’ confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh after an extremely bitter partisan battle meant that “the Supreme Court’s legitimacy crisis is here.” The public does not seem to have gotten the message. In 2015 — before the nominations of Garland, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh — the Supreme Court had a net approval rating of negative 5%, according to Gallup. In early September of this year, its net approval was a positive 10%. It is more popular than it was for nearly the entirety of Obama’s time in office. The Pew Research Center’s polling finds the same trend: The Supreme Court’s reputation has improved during the legitimacy panic of the last five years. Even Democrats view it more favorably now.

The crisis exists in their minds, but not in the public imagination. On this score, listen to Rep. Ilhan Omar butcher the facts and totally misidentify reality while attempting to justify an extreme power grab:


As others have noted, her statement is simply incorrect:


The legislative branch -- of which Omar is a part -- has, by far, the lowest approval rating of the three branches of government. According to the Gallup data I shared in my tweet, the Supreme Court's approval rating stands 74 percentage points stronger than Congress'. I'll leave you with the latest episode of the "Ruthless" podcast, in which longtime GOP operative Josh Holmes discusses the 2020 Senate map and delves into various Democratic candidates' handling of the court packing issue. Most are avoiding a firm position, while some have more or less endorsed it, like Sen. Steve Daines' opponent in Montana: