History professor: Democrats should work around SCOTUS like Abe Lincoln did

Associate Professor of History at Princeton University and Jacobin contributor Matt Karp said on Hill TV’s “Rising” Wednesday that Democrats should learn from former President Abraham Lincoln to work around a conservative-majority Supreme Court. 

Karp noted that the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 went directly against a the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott v. Sandford ruling of 1857, which decided slaves were property.

“The Emancipation Proclamation was unconstitutional according to Dred Scott, but the Supreme Court at that point had been so thoroughly muzzled, had been so thoroughly politically defeated,” Karp said. “...This is maybe the most important lesson I think: not so much the procedures, but the effort to politicize the court and reject what they called the ‘superstitious worship’ of the Supreme Court.”

Karp’s comments come as President TrumpDonald TrumpLil Wayne gets 11th hour Trump pardon Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Trump expected to pardon Bannon: reports MORE and Senate GOP leaders are moving to nominate and confirm a Supreme Court justice to fill the seat left vacant by late Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader Ginsburg, George Floyd among options for 'Remember the Titans' school's new name Bipartisan anger builds over police failure at Capitol Lindsey Graham praises Merrick Garland as 'sound choice' to serve as attorney general MORE

The move would shift the ideological split on the high court from 5-4 to 6-3, in favor of conservatives.

Karp said that like the mid-19th Century when Lincoln was president, conservatives are increasingly dependent on “counter-majoritarian institutions” such as the Supreme Court and Senate. 

“There are a lot of parallels in some ways between the 1850s and today in the sense that the anti-slavery forces in those days had a very clear popular majority that they had awakened in opposition to slavery.. and yet the only branch they controlled was the House of Representatives,” Karp said.