Spanish – The concentration of power is always dangerous. Whether right or left, liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. Montesquieu’s separation of powers allows the political balance to representative democracies to be maintained, but it does not prevent citizens from placing all their trust in an electoral option and giving a blank check to the ruler of the day. This is what has happened in the United States.
Democrat Joe Biden was certified early Thursday morning as president-elect of the American Union, almost at the same time that the results of the Georgia Senate election were announced, adding the two seats needed to give the ruling party control of the upper house. With the House of Representatives already under Democratic rule, the president who takes office on January 20 will be able to do – within the legal framework – whatever he wants.
Although the Democratic Party suffered a reduction of nine seats in the lower house, according to the results of the November 3 elections, it maintains control with a ratio of 222 representatives to 211 Republicans. Having surpassed the threshold of 218 seats has allowed it to maintain a majority with the continuity of Nancy Pelosi as the speaker.
The result of the second round in Georgia adds tight but useful control of the Senate to the party of President-elect Joe Biden. With the victory of Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, the balance of power in the Upper House is 50 – 50. However, US law provides that the tie-breaking vote is up to the Vice President, who in this case will be Kamala Harris.
With a Democratic majority in both chambers, Joe Biden will be able to pass his proposals without much fuss. This includes endorsing his cabinet nominees, appointing Supreme Court justices, appointing ambassadors, and other positions of trust.
Ensuring democratic balance
For no democracy in the world – at any rate – is the concentration of power in a single party a good thing. Now, under this premise, even the most critical of President Trump must recognize that what at the time may have seemed a whim has ended up being the healthiest thing for American democracy. Having appointed three Supreme Court justices during his term – even one in the week before the election – can be considered the Republican leader’s greatest legacy to ensuring democratic balance in the future.
Besides the controversial appointment of Amy Coney Barrett – which the Democrats were asking to be postponed for the next presidential term – Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch joined the court. With these appointments, Trump made history by becoming the only president to have nominated three Supreme Court justices.
Of the nine judges who make up the country’s highest court, six are conservative. It should be noted that although Joe Biden has the necessary votes in the Senate to appoint Supreme Court justices, these positions are for life, and nominations are only opened with the death or resignation of a justice.
The US Supreme Court is then the only counterweight in the balance of power as of January 20. It is undoubtedly the wall that President Trump leaves behind against the temptation of tyranny that inevitably stems from the concentration of power.
While it seems unlikely that at least two Supreme Court changes will take place to tip the balance toward the progressive wing, with the Democratic majority in both chambers, the specter of reform is haunting the top court to expand the number of judges.
Following the ratification of Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Senator Ed Markey threatened via his Twitter account to “expand the court.”
Expand the court.
— Ed Markey (@EdMarkey) October 27, 2020
But the biggest threat came from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is a member of the leftist wing of the Democratic Party. As soon as Congress ratified Barrett’s appointment, the New York state legislator launched a harsh and dangerous warning on her Twitter account.
“Republicans do this because they don’t believe Democrats have the stones to play hardball like they do. And for a long time, they have been correct. But do not let them bully the public into thinking their bulldozing is normal, but a response isn’t. There is a legal process for expansion.”
Expand the court.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 27, 2020
Biden’s dangerous silence
For then-candidate Joe Biden, the proposal to expand the maximum tribunal was an uncomfortable issue that he preferred to avoid. But his silence has fueled concern. “You will know my views on expanding the court when the election is over. I know it’s a great question, and you all, I don’t blame you for asking. But you know the moment I answer that question, that headline in every one of your papers will be about that other than, other than focusing on what is happening now,” Biden said during the campaign at the insistence of the press, according to statements reported by NBC.
Since 1894, the number of judges on the U.S. high court has remained at nine, although it is not expressly stated in the Constitution. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945) attempted to increase the number of judges on the court when it ruled against some legislative proposals, but his attempt was unsuccessful.
Montesquieu argued that “every man who has power is inclined to abuse it; he goes until he finds limits.”