Democrats, Stop What You're Doing and Listen to Justice Breyer

In his upcoming book The Authority of the Court and the Peril of Politics, United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer reflects upon the "authority of the Supreme Court—how that authority was gained and how measures to restructure the Court could undermine both the Court and the constitutional system of checks and balances that depends on it." 

And if Justice Breyer's motivation for writing the book wasn't easy enough to see from the book's description, "measures to restructure the Court" is Justice Breyer's way of calling out Democrats' efforts to – you guessed it – pack the court.  Justice Breyer's opinion on court-packing could not be any clearer:

“Proposals have been recently made to increase the number of Supreme Court justices,” [Justice] Breyer notes. “I aim to make those whose reflexive instincts may favor significant structural (or similar institutional) changes, such as forms of court-packing, think long and hard before embodying those changes in law.”

But it's not just court-packing Justice Breyer takes issue with in his book, the book also aims to warn against Democrats' attempts to politicize the Supreme Court, which undermines the legitimacy of the entire institution.

A growing chorus of officials and commentators argues that the Supreme Court has become too political. On this view the confirmation process is just an exercise in partisan agenda-setting, and the jurists are no more than “politicians in robes”—their ostensibly neutral judicial philosophies mere camouflage for conservative or liberal convictions. As a result of this perceived crisis, and for the first time since the New Deal era, there is serious talk of court packing in the name of ideological balance.

Justice Stephen Breyer sounds a cautionary note. Mindful of the Court’s history, he suggests that the judiciary’s hard-won authority would be marred by reforms premised on the assumption of ideological bias...If public trust is now in decline, the solution is to promote better understanding of how the judiciary actually works: overwhelmingly, judges adhere to their oath to avoid considerations of politics and popularity.

Just to be clear, this isn't Justice Breyer's first time warning the Left about the need to preserve the integrity of the Judiciary. Adam Liptak with the New York Times explains:

Justice Breyer has been particularly adamant that politics plays no role in judges' work, and he recently suggested that it should also not figure into their decisions about when to retire.

"My experience of more than 30 years as a judge has shown me that, once men and women take the judicial oath, they take the oath to heart," he said last month in a lecture at Harvard Law School. "They are loyal to the rule of law, not to the political party that helped to secure their appointment."

In the speech, a version of which will be published in September as a book called "The Authority of the Court and the Peril of Politics," Justice Breyer said that the odor of partisanship damages the judiciary.

"If the public sees judges as politicians in robes," he said, "its confidence in the courts, and in the rule of law itself, can only diminish, diminishing the court's power."

Stressing the need for Democrats to hear what the Justice is saying in his new book and to stop trying to politicize and expand the Supreme Court, Law Professor and Supreme Court expert Josh Blackmun reported

You hear that Dean Chemerinsky? Judges should "adhere to their oath to avoid considerations of politics and popularity." You hear that Court Packers? There is only a "perceived crisis" to gin up support for "court packing in the name of ideological balance." You hear that Senator Whitehouse? Politicians should not "equate impartial justice with agreeable judicial outcomes."

But will Democrats listen to the most senior, liberal Justice?  One can only hope.  Justice Breyer's book will be released on September 7, 2021.