Letters to the Editor: Democrats can always make a deal on the Supreme Court, then break it

RBG memorial
Mourners light candles in honor of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Port of Los Angeles Liberty Hill Plaza in San Pedro on Sept. 21.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I have long believed that “you can promise a person anything as long as you reserve the right to break the promise.” So, I think columnist Jonah Goldberg’s suggestion of having Republicans postpone replacing the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg until after the election in exchange for Democrats agreeing not to pack the court if they have the Senate majority is a good one.

If the Democrats can be allowed to make a useless and empty promise with which the Republicans appear to be perfectly comfortable and presumably never had any intention of honoring, then I’m OK with Goldberg’s proposal.

Of course it should never have come to this. The Republican-led Senate should have the strength of character to follow the rules it established when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court in 2016, but who am I kidding? Given who the Democrats are dealing with, I find no problem with countering the hypocrisy with a completely honorable proposal to add justices.

It shouldn’t be necessary, but that’s the world we live in now.


Fred W. Burkardt, Rancho Cucamonga


To the editor: Goldberg is “wobbly” on confirming President Trump’s Supreme Court pick. Then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) threw a nuclear bomb in 2013 by getting rid of the filibuster for judicial appointments short of the Supreme Court, and later Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) threw one back by including the Supreme Court.

Goldberg’s solution for a return to good governance is for a few Democrats to agree to not pack the court in exchange for the Republicans agreeing not to confirm the next justice until after the election.

He avoids any discussion of how the Senate ended up in a flame-throwing battle. He picks up the story at Reid started it, and McConnell acted in self-defense. Goldberg embraces the distinction between what one can do and what one should do and mourns the loss of playing the long game. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is pilloried for his hypocrisy.

Interestingly, McConnell is barely mentioned. Goldberg laments that this quid pro quo between some Democrats and the Republicans is too hard. As he says, the détente hinges on the “ability of politicians to trust other politicians will keep their word.”

Here is what is easier than reaching a new deal to foster the health of our institutions: McConnell and the rest of his party should keep their word.

Mary Jo Barr, San Diego


To the editor: Confirming a Supreme Court justice is very important. Shouldn’t there be clear rules in place on how it’s done?

Right now, as Goldberg perfectly states, the only rule is to “do whatever you can get away with.” McConnell is the ultimate hypocrite and purveyor of that philosophy. It’s whatever works for him and his party, not what is right for the country.

Isn’t it time to a pass rule on appointments, to the effect of prohibiting confirmations three months out from a presidential election? I am baffled and disappointed that our system has such a significant weakness.

Jeff Rack, Altadena