Democrats Must Unpack the Courts Now

After 6 years of McConnell’s court-packing, we must restore balance to the federal judiciary

Thom Hartmann
5 min readFeb 14, 2021


Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

Unable to win a majority of votes nationally or in most states, Republicans have resorted to gerrymandering, voter suppression and the federal court system to promote their racist, misogynistic, anti-labor, monopolist and pro-billionaire policies.

Because the courts stand as the final arbiters of all law, they’re now openly supporting gerrymandering and voter suppression, from the Supreme Court on down. This has created a crisis for American democracy.

Donald Trump bragged that President Obama “left me 128 judges to fill” as if Obama was just sloppy. The actual number was 105, but Obama didn’t “leave” them; he’d appointed genuinely qualified people, many women and minorities, to fill every single one of those judicial slots, and Mitch McConnell simply blocked them in the senate for the last two years of the Obama presidency.

McConnell even blocked Obama’s appointment of a brilliant Black attorney, Myra Selby, to the Seventh Circuit Court just to keep the seat open for Amy Coney Barrett, a notorious rightwinger and shill for big corporations and antiabortion freaks. McConnell gave Barrett that stolen seat for her first job as a federal judge, and, when Ruth Bader Ginsberg died, he and Trump put her on the Supreme Court.

McConnell also blocked Obama’s appointment of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court nearly a year before the election so rightwing hack Neil Gorsuch could get the seat instead, as soon as Donald Trump was sworn in.

As a result, Trump and McConnell got over 200 federal judges and three Supreme Court Justices through the Senate, meaning nearly a third of all federal judges were packed into our court system by Trump and virtually 100% of them have been straight and white, and the overwhelming majority men.

This is court-packing on an unprecedented scale, and refusing to even hold hearings on Judge Garland is a naked violation of the Constitution itself.

The fruit of conservative court-packing has, among other things, been a boon for Republicans who want to make it harder for people to vote, targeting young, minority



Thom Hartmann

America’s #1 progressive talk show host & NY Times bestselling author. Thom’s writings also appear at