The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg immediately brought our partisan bitterness and enmity to a boil. Radical Leftists (including verified “blue check” users on Twitter) immediately threatened riots, while “conservative” ghouls danced on Ginsburg’s grave and gloated over the ability to replace her.
It should not be this way, but there is a way to fix it. The reason that Supreme Court nomination battles are so bitter and divisive is that the federal government is way too big and powerful. The stakes are so high for SCOTUS because the federal government has gobbled up authority that rightly belongs to the states. Our politics would be a lot less acrimonious if we went back to the federalist system our country was designed to be, leaving most decisions to the states while the federal government is restricted.
Sure, there are interesting reforms that can be made around the edges. One interesting proposal I have seen is term limits for seats that are now lifetime appointments, but even if we implement that proposal a couple nominees can still make significant changes and set important precedents. The base problem is still that the stakes are too high at the national level.
When you have an increasingly large portion of policy on every issue set in one city on the East Coast, there is bound to be conflict. Rural voters do not want to have big cities determining policy for them, and the same applies to large cities. But people in Montana would care a lot less about what Los Angeles is doing if politicians from Los Angeles were not passing laws that greatly impact the people of Montana.
Sure, there is the problem that many people see the Supreme Court as a super-legislature used to implement policy as opposed to interpreting the law. But if the federal government did not have such a disproportionate amount of political power – far more than the U.S. Constitution ever allowed – then that would not be nearly as much of an issue. If we really want to lower the anger and divisiveness of our politics, what we really need to do is restore the constitutional balance originally written into our founding documents.