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The Left’s Intimidation Campaign Against Justice Breyer is A Tactic Straight from the Authoritarian Playbook

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August 20, 2021
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by Jorge Gomez • 6 min read

In their plot to stage a full-scale coup of America’s judiciary, proponents of court-packing won’t be satisfied by stacking four more justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, or even by adding an extra 203 judges to the lower district courts.

The Left has recently reignited its intimidation campaign to boot Justice Breyer from the Supreme Court, as they seek to create another vacancy for President Biden to fill with a liberal appointee:

  • Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) stated in a recent interview with CNN that if Justice Breyer decides to retire from the Supreme Court, he should do so “sooner rather than later.”
  • Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said: “Justice Breyer has been a great justice, and he recognizes, I am sure, the political reality of our [Democrats] having control of the Senate now. But elections always have risks, so, hopefully, he’s aware of that risk, and he sees it accordingly.”
  • The Atlantic called it “a pathological disregard for other human beings” that Justice Breyer has not made a final decision to retire.
  • The liberal activist group Demand Justice drove a billboard truck around Capitol Hill with a sign reading: “Breyer, retire. It’s time for a black woman Supreme Court justice.”
  • A headline from Rewire News Group it bluntly: “Justice Stephen Breyer, for the Love of God, Please Retire.”
  • The New Republic also said the quiet part out loud: “Breyer should retire as soon as possible. He should have retired in January, to be honest, so that Biden could get someone on the court during his honeymoon period.”

Even as a growing majority of Americans continue to reject court-packing, the Left’s intensifying bullying of Justice Breyer and its persistent calls to “reform” the courts make one thing crystal clear: Intimidating a justice to step down is all about grabbing power.

Justice Breyer’s seat is prime real estate for the radicals who want to allegedly “restore balance” to the Supreme Court. In addition to ballooning the Court with four more seats, ousting Breyer would give them another vacancy (a fifth empty slot) to further cement the liberal “automatic majority” they need to rubber-stamp their radical agenda and policies.

It’s true—at least right now under the current rules and the law—that the Left cannot force Justice Breyer to retire. In the end, it’s up to him to decide when he’ll step down from the bench.

However, just because they can’t forcefully remove Breyer doesn’t make their plot any less distasteful. And more than that, history shows that intimidating judges is a dangerous move taken straight form the authoritarian’s playbook.

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Retirement by Intimidation: The Tyrant’s Tool to Cement Power & Control

Intimidating or rigging the rules to force judges into stepping down from the bench is a Machiavellian, power-by-any-means-necessary tactic that destroys judicial independence, the rule of law and, ultimately, freedom.

Dictators and majority party elites have abundantly used judicial intimidation, forced removal and retirement of judges as a way to consolidate power:

  • In 1997, the Peruvian Congress (controlled by allies of Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori) fired three judges of the constitutional court who opposed the president’s bid for reelection.
  • After Viktor Orban assumed power in Hungary in 2010, he packed the Constitutional Court with his preferred justices and forced 400 judges into retirement.
  • In the early 2010’s, Hugo Chavez’s regime created nine vacancies on the Venezuelan Supreme Court by adopting a new rules that gave several judges on the highest court the “authorization” to retire before the end of their 12-year term.
  • In 2018, the ruling party in Poland purged the country’s Supreme Court of nearly half its judges by introducing a law that forced 27 judges’ retirement. After the ousting, Poland’s President appointed new judges in a secret ceremony.
  • As recently as 2019, President Erdogan tightened his grip on power by purging Turkey’s judicial system, sacking nearly 4,000 judges and prosecutors from their posts, including more than 500 reported to be in jail.

During the most recent meeting of President Biden’s judicial commission, court-packing proponents let out their usual trope, collectively groaning that “democracy is under assault by this Supreme Court.” (By that, they’re actually saying they’re unhappy with the current composition of the Court because it’s not full of judges who will rule their way.)

However, the lessons of countless countries show that court-packing and manipulating courts for political gain are the real assault to democracy, liberty and the rule of law.

If we allow the party in power to coerce and intimidate judges into retiring, then our country will quickly head down the dark road to tyranny—where there is no judicial independence or system of checks and balances to stop ruling elites from weaponizing the courts to take away our freedoms.

Whether it’s here in America, or in any country, judicial purges and court-packing all yield the same result: the erosion of constitutional liberties and rights of citizens, including religious freedom.

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