Hypocrisy is seldom so pure. The Biden State Department just took El Salvador to task for a constitutional outrage – their Congress is packing the Supreme Court for political ends! Outrage justified? Yes, of course. Pot calling kettle black – what would you say?
The Biden Administration – even as it plans to dump planeloads of money on Central America to end the border crisis – just hammered El Salvador. The US Secretary of State called the Salvadoran President and told him court-packing is a bad form: “An independent judiciary is essential to democratic governance.″ See, e.g., https://www.newsmax.com/newsfront/el-salvador-politics/2021/05/02/id/1019837/.
Biden’s team said having a politically aligned Congress vote to replace five of 15 justices – or El Salvadoran magistrates – for alleged misfeasance during COVID is foul play. That amounts to politically stacking the deck, raising the number of justices politically aligned with the Salvadoran president, allowing them to vindicate legislation otherwise unconstitutional.
Gosh, now there is an idea. If a Congress politically aligned with a President were to suddenly change the composition of the Supreme Court, in turn assuring unconstitutional legislation were ruled constitutional – such as “election reform” creating a one-party rule, gutting the First and Second Amendments – that would be wrong. But only in El Salvador?
Yes, you get the point. The Biden Administration underwrites rule of law and policy around the world, but condemns, defunds, raises liability, and undermines policy at home. The Biden Administration pressures nations to protect borders and honor treaties, then violates that principle at home. And they are now outraged at politically motivated court-packing in El Salvador, while that idea is being pushed hard at home – by Biden and Democrats.
Is there a distinction? Yes, El Salvador wrestles with endemic public corruption, and the process was hardly constitutional. The removal of one-third of a Supreme Court is not the same as adding one-third to the court. And yes, the US Congress still has – for now – a legislative filibuster or cloture vote of 60, that would or should prevent this outrage here.
But the distinction is narrow because the underlying motivations – by a corrupt or politically suspect El Salvadoran party controlling their presidency and congress and a politically craven party controlling the US presidency and congress – are the same.
The goal of Biden’s court-packing play is the same at the condemned court-packing in El Salvador: With no respect for rule of law, undermine the Supreme Court’s independence, legitimacy, and rulings – by stacking the deck, making the High Court a tool of one-party rule, turning it political.
In short, the Biden State Department is right to call out the ruling party in El Salvador. They are right to forcefully condemn a one-party president and congress for making a Supreme Court the tool of politics. That is exactly the reason such a move would be dead wrong in America. Just hold the mirror up, Mr. Biden.