Saturday, December 12, 2020

Tom Tiffany Doesn't Trust Wisconsin's Election Results. So Why Should He Serve In Congress, Then?

Republican Rep. Tom Tiffany ran for Congress this year in the state's 7th Congressional District. He won by a margin of about 20,000 votes against his Democratic opponent, Tricia Zunker, in the election that was held last month.

This past week, Tiffany also signed onto an amicus brief for a lawsuit from Texas, alongside more than 120 other Republicans in Congress. That lawsuit is calling into question the validity of votes in four states that helped President-elect Joe Biden win in this year's presidential election.

Among the four states whose votes are being disputed is Wisconsin.

The merits of the case Texas brought against these four states were laughable, at best, and deeply worrisome at their worst, as Texas AG Ken Paxton cited supposed election fraud without providing substantiated evidence of any kind, and had sought to invalidate millions of votes based off of those errant claims. The Supreme Court on Friday denied the request to hear the challenge.

There are some who are calling on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to refuse to seat those Republican lawmakers who signed onto this extreme lawsuit. Pelosi has the power to do so, believe it or not, provided a majority of the House agrees with her.

While she is unlikely to take such action, Tiffany should save us all the trouble of pondering that possibility and refuse to take a seat in Congress himself. After all, the document that he signed stated that there was an "erosion" of "confidence" in the "legitimacy of our institutions of government," including within the election last month, that warranted the Supreme Court to invalidate the results of Wisconsin and three other states.

Tiffany is a representative from Wisconsin. If he cannot be confident in the results of the presidential race in the state, he shouldn't be confident in his own election results, either.

The congressman sought to have the results of our presidential election tossed out. Were he a consistent person, he would also ask for the same treatment of his own race's outcome, and refuse to seat himself in Congress come January.

But something tells me such consistent action will not be made by the Republican representative from the 7th District.

Featured image credit: Public Domain/Wikimedia

Thursday, December 10, 2020

GOP Support for the Texas Lawsuit to Overturn the Election is an Endorsement for Anti-Democracy

Here's what you need to know about the Texas lawsuit against Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, which is supported by Republican officials in 17 other states, as well as by more than 100 GOP lawmakers in Congress:

It's completely bogus. But it's also revealing of something disturbing that has developed in our American society: a belief by a significant portion of the right-wing in this country that democracy deserves to die.

Beyond containing complaints about the way states changed voting laws in light of COVID-19 — and the hypocritical manner of those complaints, as states that have enjoined themselves in Texas's lawsuit, including Texas itself, ALSO made similar changes to their election laws because of the pandemic — the suit also seeks to allow Texas to tell other states (including Wisconsin) how to run their own elections. 

That's not how our government is set up to be. Wisconsin, Texas, and other states create their own standards for how elections are run. And Texas must demonstrate, under a very specific set of criteria, that they've been legally "harmed" by Wisconsin, Georgia, Michigan, or Pennsylvania.

As Pennsylvania's oppositional document to Texas's lawsuit states, Texas's Attorney General Ken Paxton has not done so.

The remedy Republicans are seeking here is extraordinary, and would result in one of the most blatantly political and offensive rulings the Supreme Court has ever made, with regard to election law. It would fundamentally alter the character of our nation, allowing a candidate to "win" an election (quotes necessary) simply because he complained hard enough about his loss.

Because, ultimately, that is the basis for this lawsuit. Texas asserts no real evidence of fraud, depending upon the errant and unsubstantiated claims of malfeasance that Trump has made previously, which have so far resulted in zero significant court wins for him or his allies in other appellate and state courtrooms.

If the impossible does come to fruition — if the Supreme Court decides for some reason to hear the case, and in turn decides in Trump's favor — then authoritarian rule truly will have come to America. That's not hyperbole — that's fact. Under those circumstances, the president will have "won" reelection without having actually been reelected; and he will serve another term in office without deserving to do so. 

The High Court will PROBABLY not decide to even hear this case. But that hundreds of Republican lawmakers across the country, and that Trump's ardent base of supporters, too, not only think the case should be heard, but also DECIDED in TRUMP's favor, demonstrates a marked departure from political norms the likes of which have never been seen in this country.

It is, ultimately, a ringing endorsement from them of anti-democracy.

Featured image credit: Kjetil Ree/Wikimedia (edits made)

Friday, November 13, 2020

Over Past 75 Days, Wisconsin's Rate of COVID Deaths is 31% Higher than the Nation's

WHEN IT COMES TO CORONAVIRUS in the state of Wisconsin, we are failing. Hard.

We're even doing worse, comparably speaking, to the rest of the nation as a whole when you look at the past 75 days.

On August 31, Wisconsin had approximately 75,000 cases of coronavirus, and counted 1,122 deaths at that time from the pandemic. On November 12, those numbers increased to around 293,000 total cases diagnosed, and 2,515 deaths counted.

In the U.S. overall, there were around 6.27 million cases of coronavirus on August 31; on November 12, the U.S. counted 10.88 million. When it came to deaths, the country saw around 188,000 counted from COVID-19 on August 31. This week, the number is up to 248,000.

The U.S. obviously has a higher number of deaths and cases of coronavirus. But if you grew the population of Wisconsin to be proportionally equal to the nation, it would show we're actually doing worse during this time period

In fact, if you took the change in new diagnoses discovered in Wisconsin from August 31 to November 12 (about 218,000 new cases found during that time in the state) and extrapolated it to compare to the U.S., the Badger State's increase in new cases diagnosed would be 167 percent higher than the nation's rate of change.

The rate of deaths recorded from coronavirus is worse in Wisconsin, too, with the state seeing a 31.3 percent higher rate of deaths from the virus since the end of August than the nation, when adjusted for population.

We can defeat this virus, but it requires every Wisconsinite to take it seriously. Unfortunately, far too many in this state don't think the rules apply to them. They're not wearing masks, they're not socially distancing, and they're scoffing off the destruction of this pandemic as a made-up thing.

All the while, many are complicit in the spreading of COVID-19, even if they themselves never show symptoms. That's just the nature of this virus. It requires more care, more empathy, and unfortunately, not enough are showing either of those two traits.

In the state that I grew up in, we looked after our neighbors, both the literal ones next door and the figurative ones many counties away. But for some reason, this issue became a political hot-button topic — and as conservatives have refused to acknowledge the reality of this situation (whether out of spite of Gov. Tony Evers or in support of President Donald Trump), it has exposed that their values are far different from what this state has espoused in the past. 

To sum it up, they're letting their neighbors die to "own the libs." 

How reckless. How abhorrent. How...anti-Wisconsin.

Mask up when you're out. Stay at home when you can. 

Save our state.

Featured image credit: The National Guard/Flickr

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Denying the Will of Wisconsin Voters is Nothing New for GOP Rep. Sanfelippo

REPUBLICAN ASSEMBLYMAN JOE SANFELIPPO made headlines this week after his comments set off concerns that he and other legislative Republicans in the state might try to overturn the will of Wisconsin voters.

President Donald Trump lost the state in the 2020 election last week to now-President-elect Joe Biden. Republicans across the country are considerably upset about this — so much so that they appear willing to defy our nation's norms, as Trump has done, and refuse to accept Biden as the next president.

Sanfelippo looks to be a lawmaker willing to take this defiance to the extremes. Discussing the matter on Monday, he made the wild suggestion that, if voting irregularities could be found, the state's electors in the Electoral College ought to be allowed to vote against how Wisconsinites voted in the presidential election.

"If an investigation shows these actions affected the outcome of the election, we need to either declare this past election null and void and hold a new election or require our Electoral College Delegates to correct the injustice with their votes," the Republican lawmaker said.

No such evidence of malfeasance exists in the state (nor across the nation, for that matter). But what's troubling is that Sanfelippo believes that there is...and that may mean he could push for disregarding the will of the voters, whether extensive fraud exists for real or not.

Via Wisconsin Examiner:

[Sanfelippo] claimed — without providing evidence —  that there was insufficient voter purging by the Wisconsin Elections Commission and that clerks in Dane and Milwaukee counties "colluded" to keep unverified names on voter lists and began voting too early. Those allegations were "just the beginning" Sanfelippo said.


There have been no reports of “irregularities” in Wisconsin’s presidential election Elections Commission’s administrator Meagan Wolfe has repeatedly told reporters. After Election Day she said during a press conference, “I think that it’s insulting to our local election officials to say that yesterday’s election was anything but an incredible success that was the result of years of preparation and meticulously carefully following the law.”

Comments like Sanfelippo's should have every Wisconsin voter worried. 

Imagine a scenario like this: an "investigation" into the elections finds no fraud, or maybe a few small instances of individuals voting in questionable ways. But Republicans, hellbent on disrupting the will of the people, decide to act anyway, giving electors in the Electoral College permission — or perhaps, instruction — to vote for Trump if they want.

It sounds outlandish and impossible to happen. But given this legislature's shenanigans in tearing apart Gov. Tony Evers's powers as governor in the last minutes before he assumed office, nothing would surprise me these days regarding the morals of the current incarnation of the state's Republican Party.

Interestingly, Sanfelippo is not unfamiliar with trying to thwart the will of the people or undermining the democratic process in Wisconsin. In 2015, he proposed a change to the state constitution, in order to remove the right of voters to elect the head of the Department of Public Instruction — which at the time, was Evers himself, who was the only Democratic official (besides Sec. of State Doug La Follette) in state executive branch government.

From Political Heat, September 2015:

Sanfelippo seems concerned about just who is in charge of the DPI, citing that all-to-common (but rarely delved into) talking point Republicans love the most -- special interests (PDF).

“The students of our state should not be held hostage just because special interest groups can get someone without the proper qualifications to win a popularity contest every four years,” Sanfelippo said in a recent press release. “Our children and teachers deserve much better.”

Sanfelippo's worries were hypocritical, I pointed out then, as other statewide offices (conveniently held by Republicans) didn't seem to bother him...

Why doesn’t he seem concerned about the office of Attorney General, which has no requirements or qualifications either? Or for that matter, where is Sanfelippo's call to have special interests stay out of the election for governor itself?

"It seems pretty clear, even if they’re not saying it out loud, that Republicans are pushing this idea to change the DPI on a partisan basis rather than a necessary one," I concluded.

Five years on, and it's clear that very little has changed for Sanfelippo. He still appears willing to disrupt the will of Wisconsin voters. He and the rest of his party should be ashamed.

Featured image credit: Vijay Kumar Koulampet/Wikimedia

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

The "Camp-Out" Theory on Ending the Electoral College Is Just Plain Wrong. Here's the Truth...

WITH THE 2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION having now been decided, it's time to once again say, with complete conviction and truth, that the Electoral College simply has to come to an end, once and for all.

The idea is simple enough: end the Electoral College, and let every vote across the country count equally, no matter what state you live in.

There's no reason why we shouldn't do this. The Electoral College has, on many occasions, thwarted the will of the American people to pick their commander-in-chief by allowing votes in some states to "weigh" more than votes in others. It did so in 2000 and in 2016, and in spite of Joe Biden's win this year, it came dangerously close to doing it again in 2020.

But some have argued that the Electoral College makes less-populous states more relevant — or that candidates for office won't travel to those areas if they can "camp out" in high-population areas to win an election.

There's no evidence to support this idea. Indeed, most, if not all, of the "small" states are ignored even with the Electoral College in place. Swing states that candidates travel to are those that have strategic value, not because the system encourages travel to lesser-populated areas.

The argument itself is laughable when you consider that the 500 most populated cities in the United States only account for a third of the U.S. population. California, New York, Florida, and Texas, the four most-populated states in the country, are similarly only about a third of the nation's totals. 

It would be incredibly difficult to win the election in a popular vote model with only a third of the electorate.

The worries from critics are misplaced. Indeed, if we got rid of the Electoral College and put in its place a popular vote system where instant voter runoff would ensure a candidate had to receive 50 percent + 1 votes to win, we would actually see MORE states get paid attention to than what we currently do under the Electoral College.

To reach that 50 percent + 1 number, a candidate would have to successfully court, at A MINIMUM, residents in the 38 most-populated metropolitan areas of the U.S., representing voters of 31 states plus D.C. That's a large chunk of the geographical area in this country.

For comparison, under the current system in 2020, 19 out of every 20 places traveled to by the presidential or vice presidential candidates of the Republican and Democratic parties was to just 12 states. And lest you think that COVID-19 had something to do with that, the same number of states was traveled to in 2016, too.

In other words, to court the bare minimum needed to win an election, a candidate in a popular vote model for president that requires a 50 percent threshold would have to travel to nearly three times more states to win — and that presumes a single candidate would win 100 percent of the votes in those areas.

That last point will never happen...which means that candidates will likely have to court voters from even MORE areas in order to win.

What about rural voters? Even though pro-Electoral College apologists say they will be ignored, the voting bloc that rural residents represent — a little more than 1-in-5 Americans live in rural areas — is too big to ignore. 

No popular vote win since 1972 has ever reached 20 percent difference between the winning and losing candidates. It would simply be foolish to try to win an election by completely ignoring 20 percent of the United States.


It's far past time we get rid of the Electoral College. The incoming Biden-Harris administration ought to make that a priority — and the debate on the issue should happen right away. 

However, that debate has to be an honest one. Defenders of the Electoral College will make claims that keeping it in place makes the electoral map larger. In fact, as I've noted above, it shrinks the map significantly. A popular vote, with instant voter runoff, actually makes more of the country relevant. Most states are ignored as it is under the current system, and a popular vote system for picking the president would actually fix that problem.

One person. One vote. And more of the country's interests represented. There's really no point in keeping the Electoral College around any longer.

Featured image via Public Domain (edits added)

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Trump's Waukesha Rally Will Probably Become A "Superspreader" Event

ON SATURDAY NIGHT, President Donald Trump held a campaign rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin. It was an event that brought out his most ardent supporters in one of the reddest parts of the state.

Naturally, even though coronavirus continues to rage on in the U.S. (and in Wisconsin in particular), the event was a mostly maskless affair. As freelance reporter Ethan Duran noted, hundreds of individuals were packed in tight at the event without donning any protective covering whatsoever.

Not everyone was maskless, however, because the Trump campaign has determined it doesn't do them any good to actually SHOW people not wearing masks. So, as has become their modus operandi as of late, people who were on the stage behind Trump were wearing masks — you know, so that the cameras could show he takes this pandemic seriously.

Of course, Trump doesn't take any of this seriously, as was evident during his speech. At one point, he told revelers standing before him that the virus is "going away" and that it's "rounding around the turn."

That's not even true within his own administration. As he was speaking in Waukesha on Saturday, it was announced that Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff Marc Short, as well as another aide in the VP's office, had tested positive for COVID-19.

Some have observed the way that coronavirus has traversed through Trump's White House staff, and have described it as being akin to a "superspreader" event on its own. Which begs the question: will his event in Waukesha put people at risk, too?

Undoubtedly it will. Waukesha itself, known for being stubborn in the early months of the crisis by staging protests against the state's stay-at-home order, is already a hotbed of coronavirus activity. That will continue, if not get worse, because of Trump's presence this weekend.

Thanks, Donald.

We know this will be true with near certainty, because we've already seen what happens when Trump visits Wisconsin during the pandemic — the virus spreads, and rates of death increase

Trump held a rally on September 17 in Mosinee, Wisconsin. On that date, the percentage of all tests ever taken that came back positive for coronavirus in Marathon County was at 4.94 percent. Two weeks later, at the start of October, the rate increased to 7.70 percent.

The positivity rate has, sadly, continued to grow since that time, sitting at 13.43 percent as of this past Friday.

The number of deaths in Marathon County, similarly, has gone up since Trump's visit. When he came to Mosinee, there were 14 deaths recorded from coronavirus. Now, 39 individuals have died from the virus.

That number may sound minuscule to some, but one has to remember: Marathon County is sparsely populated compared to other areas of the state. If you extrapolated that county's population to the size of the city of Madison, those 25 recorded deaths over the past 37 days would equal 47 deaths. And if you compared Marathon County's death rate during those two weeks to the U.S. population overall, it'd be equivalent to seeing more than 60,000 deaths over that time period.

The U.S. saw about 27,000 COVID-19 deaths from September 17 to October 23 — a terrifying number, to be sure, but much smaller than what Marathon County experienced in a per capita comparison.

Are these numbers out of Marathon County all attributable to Trump's campaign rally? It's hard to say for sure. But he certainly played a role in getting people to come out to that event, to (mostly) not wear their masks during it, and continue to believe well after that rally in Mosinee that social distancing and facial coverings were unimportant. 

The president is, at a minimum, mainly to blame for encouraging dangerous beliefs about coronavirus, including in Wisconsin. Beyond that, he may also be to blame for the recent uptick in the spread of the virus here due to hosting campaign events in the state.

It's not a hard guess to make to say that Waukesha County will likely see similar spikes in the next few weeks. 

Featured image credit: image of Trump, via Gage/Skidmore/Flickr; image of COVID-19, via public domain.

Monday, October 12, 2020

The Reason Why Joe Biden Should Commit To "Packing" The Court — If Barrett Gets Confirmed, That Is...

ONE QUESTION THAT DEMOCRATIC presidential nominee Joe Biden seems stuck on during the waning weeks of the campaign is whether he'd "pack the Supreme Court" or not if he's elected, meaning would he increase the size of the bench in order to create a better balance of liberal and conservative justices.

So far, he's not made his views clear on the subject.

But he absolutely should "pack" the court, with one extra justice, if Amy Coney Barrett is appointed.

President Donald Trump has had three Supreme Court vacancies during his presidency. Only one came in the middle of his term, with the first nomination coming about due to Republicans blocking President Barack Obama's choice the year before Trump took office.

Republicans insisted that Obama's pick not be heard since it was so close to a presidential election. Now, they're inconsistently rationalizing that rule doesn't matter anymore.

Any way you slice it, the hypocrisy makes clear that Trump should not have been able to appoint either the first vacancy that happened under his watch (as soon as he entered office) or this most recent one.

He got an extra nomination to the court that he shouldn't have received, if the rules had been carried out consistently. Either GOP senators should have let Obama make his pick back in 2016, or Republicans should refrain from going forward on Barrett's nomination.

It's more than likely that Barrett will get appointed. So Biden absolutely should commit to one extra member on the Supreme Court, if he wins office. Doing so would negate the negative effects of a seat being stolen by the GOP and Trump.

If Barrett's nomination doesn't go through, however, through some miraculous circumstance, there's no need to rectify the problem. Biden should not add another seat to the court, but fill the vacancy that would still remain.

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo explains it more succinctly, in a series of tweets he made on the issue over the weekend (bolded emphases added):

For the last decade Republicans have used an escalating mix of aggressive and corrupt means to stack the federal judiciary in order to entrench power they believe they will no longer be able to win in majority elections. If Democrats control the Congress and the White House, they must take steps to undo this harm and corruption and the most viable, logical path is to add additional seats to the Supreme Court. This is no more than undoing bad acting by Republicans, a remedial, reactive action to ensure that democratic government can function.

If Democrats are pressed on whether they support expanding the Court, the obvious answer is it's up to the GOP! The rushed confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett is the culmination of this effort to stack the judiciary via corrupt means. If Republicans give Democrats no choice, the consequences are on them. Will Democrats expand the Court? The substantive answer should be, absolutely. The political answer is, we’ll have to see what Republicans do. If they continue to abuse their power we’ll have no choice.

The one worry about this idea that I have is that it would create a precedent that might allow for increasing the size of the court for future presidents. But so long as it's framed in such a way as to explain it's a one-time deal — as a means to correcting a problem created by the corrupt and hypocritical Republican senators/Trump over the past four years — then those fears should be alleviated.

On top of this, reforms to the court should also be considered, to ensure such corrections will never be necessary again. And a commitment to lowering the number of justices to nine, within a year or two, should be made.

Featured image credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr; AscendedAnathema/Wikimedia

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

A Sobering Stat Shows WI Is Faring Far Worse than the Rest of the U.S. on COVID

TWENTY-SEVEN WISCONSINITES DIED FROM coronavirus in a single 24-hour period, according to numbers released by the state Department of Health Services website on Wednesday.

It's the highest number of deaths the state has seen from the disease since the pandemic reached our borders. But for some, 27 might be a small number. 

Let's put it into perspective. Wisconsin has approximately 5.8 million residents. If you extrapolated the number of deaths reported in the state on Wednesday to a population equivalent to the country's (328 million), there would be approximately 1,470 people who had died.

According to the New York Times, as of yesterday the U.S. was seeing a 7-day average of 733 deaths per day.

In other words, Wisconsin's death rate from coronavirus, as of Wednesday, is more than double what the nation is seeing at this time.

We need to do better. Unfortunately, too many Republican leaders in the state legislature don't agree, do not believe that any action is necessary to combat the effects of this disease — and now, a conservative legal organization is suing to end Gov. Tony Evers's mask mandate.

If they're successful, then undoubtedly, more lives will be lost in the state as a result. And the GOP will just sit on their hands, allowing it to go on.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

3 Reforms To SCOTUS That Could Save Our Democracy — Tenure Limits, Appointment Limits, And A National Referendum

THE PASSING OF Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the subsequent battle that is being set up as a result, is a consequence of a failed system that demonstrates how, in recent years, we've made an institution that shouldn't be political into just that.

With Sen. Mitt Romney's (R-Utah) announcement on Tuesday that he will support the nomination process for a new justice ahead of the presidential election — bucking the precedent that was set by Mitch McConnell and other Republicans in 2016 when former President Barack Obama had sought to name Judge Merrick Garland to the High Court — there's a high possibility that a "lame duck" appointment by current President Donald Trump will be named to the Supreme Court, likely after he has lost the presidential race itself in November.

If that happens, many Democrats will make pleas to "pack the court" after Joe Biden gets sworn in, assuming he does indeed win the election; and, given the highly-partisan nature of how things have been over the past decade or so, it's likely the movement to do so will gain traction.

My big fear over this move is that it could lead, generations from now, to a Supreme Court with 20 or 30 justices sitting on it, after each new president decides they don't like what the previous president has done, and chooses to add more seats to the bench rather than abide by the rules our nation has previously gone with.

If Biden does indeed agree with calls to add two more justices to the court, he should do so with a solemn promise: that he won't appoint more justices as vacancies happen. In other words, if he adds two to the court (for 11 justices total), he will allow that number to go back to nine, without adding new justices as vacancies occur.

But that action only addresses one problem: the fact that Trump was able to steal two Supreme Court nominations during his tenure — the first being what was supposed to be Obama's nominee in 2016 (rolling over into 2017 when Trump was inaugurated), the second being whatever this impending appointment will be, which thwarted the precedent set before (Brett Kavanaugh's appointment, while I strongly opposed it, was, at the very least, a "legitimate" action to fill a seat on the Supreme Court by this current president).

A series of other reforms need to be enacted beyond whatever action Biden takes immediately after taking office. The High Court, simply put, needs rules to ensure that, if we're going to treat it as a political institution as we are now, it cannot abuse its power, just as other political institutions are limited from doing.

Here are three quick reforms I can think of:

  • Tenure limits of 14 (or 18) years for each justice. The exact number of years isn't the point here, so much as the idea that justices shouldn't serve lifetime appointments. This shouldn't necessarily restrict justices from serving longer periods of time, but would require presidents to re-nominate them if they want to keep them on the court. Tenure limits would ensure that the Supreme Court adjusts to societal changes in a more timely fashion, while also creating a schedule for voters to know when a presidential election will have an effect on a "known" vacancy that is set to occur.

  • An appointment limit for presidents. Under this reform, presidents would only be allowed to fill two vacancies per presidential term. Exceptions could be allowed if less than five justices are on the bench as a result of a new vacancy, or if two-thirds of the Senate votes to affirm a president's request to add another justice to the bench, for example.

  • A national referendum on "close" picks. This reform might be the trickiest one to sell, but it would give the court a lot more legitimacy, especially for those appointments that cause social media to explode with outrage. Supreme Court justices who are confirmed by a margin of less than 55 votes in the Senate are, by their very slim nature of being approved, inherently partisan picks. So, when less than 11 in 20 Senators vote to confirm a president's pick, a "yes-or-no" vote across the nation should be triggered, to allow the people to approve or deny a contested justice pick in an up-or-down vote. This should only happen in certain circumstances, however — perhaps when such a situation occurs, it could require a vote in the House of Representatives first, or a majority of state governors have to support it, etc. before a national referendum happens.

It's not likely that any of these reforms could come easily. But some of them might not require a constitutional amendment — Article III of the Constitution does not limit any of these reforms from being possible. Congress has the power to regulate aspects of the High Court, which it has done in the past

If we want the Supreme Court to work — and, what's more, if we want to ensure our entire system doesn't fall apart due to the death or retirement of a single justice — these reforms are a good place to start, or at least begin a conversation, over how we can prevent such outcomes. 

The present situation in Washington D.C. is exposing fissures in our system of governance, and if we do not address them, they could create real crises for our country in the years ahead.