Thursday, October 22, 2020


Fairness and balance. That is what swing voters want.

Fairness is a powerful argument — particularly to independent voters. During my recall election, many citizens did not agree with all of my policies, yet they did not support the recall effort. During the campaign, an ad ran with two voters who said they had voted for my opponent in the original election but that I deserved to serve out a full term before they judged me for reelection. The ad was targeted to swing voters, and it worked. In 2012, we carried the majority of independent voters. That year, more than 10% of the voters in Wisconsin cast a ballot for Barack Obama as president and me as governor.

Swing voters believe in fairness. Interestingly, I felt the president’s rise in the polls earlier this year in Wisconsin was partially because some of those same voters did not think the impeachment process was fair. Again, they might not always agree with the president — particularly on tone or tweets — but they viewed the process as partisan. Impeachment, like a recall in my state, should not be used for disagreements.

Swing voters are often highly educated and look at a wide variety of information about the candidates before casting a ballot. In each of my victories in a blue-leaning state, I carried the independent vote. It is clear that these voters care about fairness, and they care about balance.

Packing the U.S. Supreme Court is an issue that should disturb swing voters as it will disrupt the balance of power. Last year, after some of the Democratic candidates for president suggested expanding the number of seats on the Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “Nine seems to be a good number. It’s been that way for a long time.” She went on to say, “If anything, [it] would make the court look partisan.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris still refuse to answer if they support adding more justices to the high court. Without a doubt, the issues of fairness and balance are once again on the minds of independent voters.

Clearly, many Democratic officeholders and large segments of the liberal base want an expansion of seats on the Supreme Court if Democrats take control of the White House and Senate and keep the House of Representatives. Since federal judgeships are lifetime appointments, they want to counter the votes of the justices who are considered to be conservative with activist justices.

It is my belief that swing voters do not want to undermine the checks and balances between the three branches of the federal government. In 2018, these voters helped elect Democratic candidates in many swing districts that helped them gain the majority in the House. I believe they wanted at least one chamber of Congress to be controlled by Democrats to balance the actions of President Trump.

With that in mind, it is critically important to explain that “packing the court” is not confirming justices with whom you agree. Presidents and senators have done that for decades. Instead, “packing the court” means adding more seats to undermine the opinions of those already on the bench. Swing voters understand that would not be fair, and it would undermine the balance of power.

There have been nine justices on the Supreme Court since 1869. Before that, the members of Congress routinely changed the number to achieve their own political goals. Thankfully, this process stopped more than 150 years ago.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried “packing the court” after a series of rulings by the Supreme Court undercut some of his agenda. His administration proposed legislation that would allow him to name up to six new justices. The members of the Senate blocked that idea on a vote of 70-20. They understood that “packing the court” is not fair and it undermines the checks and balances of the federal governments.

Just last year, Mr. Biden said that he was “not prepared to go on and try to pack the court.” He also said that he “would not get into court packing.” Instinctively, he is against the idea but the radical element of his party wants to — and with the vacancy created by the death of Justice Ginsburg — Mr. Biden may be backed into a corner by his own supporters.

Mr. Trump needs swing voters to win in battleground states like mine. These voters are rightly concerned about fairness and balance.

If Democrats control the White House and Senate, they will likely move to expand the number of justices and fill them with political allies and activists who would make the law instead of upholding it. They would then change the rules to favor keeping them in power while having a Supreme Court to protect their power grab.

This would be neither fair nor balanced. Republicans would be wise to share this message with their independent neighbors.

• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at swalker@washingtontimes.com or follow him @ScottWalker.

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