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 Trump 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 Ginsburg. 

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.

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