In their June 24 edition, the Washington Post published on its Outlook section front page a call by George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley to, well, pack the Supreme Court. Instead of nine justices, he envisions a high court with as many as 19 robed arbiters of the law.
The George Washington University public interest law professor claimed the current number of justices is just too small to have the final say on federal cases of landmark importance, such as Thursday's expected ruling on ObamaCare. It is part of the long temper tantrum the political left has been throwing over the assumed notion that the bill will be ruled unconstitutional.
Turley noted that “a national poll this month showed that the public overwhelmingly opposes how the court functions. Only 44 percent of citizens approved of how the court is doing its job, and 60 percent thought that appointing Supreme Court justices for life is a 'bad thing' because it gives them too much power.” So because Al Gore lost the 2000 election -- and every recount, machine or manual conducted in Florida -- the Supreme Court is dysfunctional?
Turley turned to other countries to argue that their supreme courts put ours to shame by its puny size:
I believe that many of the court’s problems come back to its dysfunctionally small size. This is something that countries with larger high courts manage to avoid: Germany (16 members), Japan (15), United Kingdom (12) and Israel (15). France uses 124 judges and deputy judges, while Spain has 74. These systems have structural differences, but they eliminate the concentration-of-power problem that we have in the United States.
Thankfully Turley avoided suggesting that the newly-expanded Supreme Court should also borrow legal reasoning from its counterparts in other countries.
At no point in his column does Turley explain how he arbitrarily arrived at 19 as the magic number for Supreme Court justices. "[A] 19-member or so court has been shown to work efficiently where a larger court would likely be unwieldy,” Turley insists, but offers no evidence for that assertion.
Following a torrent of criticism, Turley took to his blog this morning to address his critics, insisting that his pipe dream of an expansion of the court has been kicking around his brain for some ten years and that he has long sided with conservatives on such cases as Citizens United.
That being said, it's no accident that the Post highlighted Turley's controversial idea on the weekend before many expected the Court could hand down its ruling in the HHS v. Florida case.