LETTER — Court shenanigans are as old as the Republic
Published 6:00 am Friday, October 16, 2020
To The Editor:
Under Democratic logic regarding confirmation of Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court, Virginia’s John Marshall would not have been Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
John Adams lost the 1800 election to Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. The election was in November but the new President did not take office until March 1801.
Adams nominated John Marshall as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in January 1801. This was two months after Adams lost the election. Marshall was confirmed as Chief Justice in February 1801, or one month before Jefferson took office.
Adams and the lame duck Federalist Congress also reduced the number of Supreme Court justices from six to five, so Jefferson could not fill a possible vacancy. (The act was repealed before a vacancy occurred.) They also passed what would be called the Midnight Judges Act which created 16 new circuit court judgeships. Adams filled those positions after the election.
Later, in retaliation for passing the Judges Act, Jefferson’s allies in the House of Representatives impeached Associate Justice Samuel Chase. Chase was not convicted on the articles of impeachment, but he remains the only SCOTUS Justice to be impeached.
So, if two men who served on the committee to write the Declaration of Independence can behave this way, then Barrett’s hearing is not an unusual or unconstitutional act.