The Supreme Coup – Victory Against Packing The Court – Keisha Russell – What is the danger of packing the court? What does this victory mean? What is the supreme coup? Tune in to hear Keisha Russell from First Liberty Institute talk about this important issue!
Air Date: 12/20/2021
Guest: Keisha Russell
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
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Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live. We’re talking about the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. My name is Rick Green. I’m a former Texas legislator and America’s Constitution coach. I’m here with David Barton. He’s America’s premier historian and our founder at WallBuilders, and Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor, and president of WallBuilders. Check us out at wallbuilderslive.com. That’s also the place to make your one-time or monthly contribution.
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Alright, guys, little later in the program, Keisha Russell will be with us from First Liberty. Firstliberty.org is the website. And she’s going to be talking a little bit about this commission that Biden appointed. These are folks he chose, hoping that they would come back and say yes, pack the court, really going to be good for America. And of course, the reason we got Keisha coming off because First Liberty really led the charge to stop this, what they called “Supreme Coup” of literally changing the court with these additional appointments, something hadn’t been done or even threatened since FDR, and Biden himself said that was a boneheaded idea. But guys, I’m really surprised. I mean, this commission did not rubber-stamp Biden, in fact, really warned against how bad this could be.
Yeah, let’s back up for a little bit because what you have here is when Trump was in office, he got to a point three Supreme Court justices. And at that point in time, the progressives and liberals saw the handwriting in the wall, we’re probably going to lose Roe v. Wade. From their standpoint, they’re thinking we could probably going to see all of our other progress that we’ve made through the judiciary torn down, and so this is really, really bad. So how do we preserve progressive progress when it’s not constitutional when the judges are going to tear it down?
We just put more of our own Judges on the court. We just pack the court with our Judges. Something that was proposed by FDR long time ago, didn’t go well then, but this was the plan. And so you’ve had a lot well, as a matter of fact, some of the first bills introduced by Pelosi, once the new Congress gaveled in was to expand the courts, constitutional amendments, other things introduced House and Senate, expand the courts.
So this is their plan was okay if you got a majority right now, we’ll just keep adding our justices till we have a majority and then we’ll strike down the Texas law or the Mississippi prolapse law and make sure that we keep Roe v Wade, or whatever it else is they want to protect. So that was what was going on. So Kelly Shackleford, First Liberty said, you know, most Americans probably don’t understand what this is about, they probably don’t keep up with the courts, and they probably don’t understand that this is a political move that will undermine justice. And that’s when they got involved and put together a website to start educating people.
Yeah, the website, the Supreme Coup, and there’s a link on their website at firstliberty.org.
Now, wait a minute, I am going to say back in the day, Rick, you were you around for Hooked on Phonics?
How do you spell coup?
Well, is C-U-E.
Yeah, exactly. We’re given a website, alright, people, it’s C-O-U-P. Supreme Coup, French word, whatever it is, but it is C-O-U-P. So if you want to go to the website, don’t do it phonetically. It is Supreme C-O-U-P, meaning Coup.
And this is something that I’m looking at the end of this group of individuals that was appointed to this commission to go and investigate this, this Supreme Court website, actually, there was a lot of information that First Liberty did researching it that a lot of briefs that were sent to some of these individuals involved on this commission, and it definitely seemed to be very influential what they were able to do.
And you know, guys, we’ve worked with so many of these attorneys at First Liberty for so many years, a lot of good friends over there, and so we’re so grateful for what they did. And one of the attorneys who’s been with them only a couple years where it seems like most of their attorneys have been around for decades, Keisha Russell is somebody who, first of all, amazing testimony. During the summer, when we do our summer program for college students, we bring Keisha in and she’s able to share part of her testimony and her journey in life and how God was able to really do some remarkable things to get her from where she was in life into law school and did so well in law school. And she’s the only person that was ever freshly hired out of law school by First Liberty.
Normally, they look for attorneys who have some experience in what they’re doing. And Keisha was just so impressive to them. They said we’re going to make an exception for you. And she is so impressive. So she’s somebody that we thought would be really good at helping give some information about what has happened with this situation dealing with court-packing and also First Liberty’s involvement in the whole situation.
And by the way, not only is Keisha involved with the summer institute with 18-25 year olds, but we also do a training in the summer for teachers, it’s a teacher training. And so we bring in attorneys to tell teachers, particularly public school teachers, here’s what you can do legally. And you can do so much more than you think you can.
And so this last year, Keisha was the one who came in and briefed the teachers. And it’s important because Keisha is also the one who represents the teachers when it comes to court time. So Keisha is really, really well informed. And by the way, this is also a little commercial. If you are a teacher and want to come to the Summer Teacher Training, you get hands-on with so many original historical documents, but you get information like that from Keisha, or if you’re 18-25 years old, want to comes to Summer Institute, if you go to wallbuilders.com, under initiatives, you’ll see those programs you can sign up there. She’s been so good in the summer trainings and helping us in so many areas, and she now briefed us on this victory that’s now happened with the court-packing situation.
Keisha Russell, our special guest stay with us. We’re going to take a quick break, we’ll be right back on WallBuilders Live.
This is Tim Barton, from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. Meaning today wrongly claimed our Founding Fathers were largely atheists, agnostics, and deist. Certainly, some Founders were less religious than others, but even they were not irreligious. Consider Benjamin Franklin, definitely one of the least religious among them.
Yet, when the delegates at the Constitutional Convention hit an impasse in their deliberations, it was Franklin who called them to prayer, invoking numerous scriptures to make his point. As he reminded them, “God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured in the sacred writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this.
So, even the least religious of America’s founders urge public prayer and dependence on God. For more information about the faith of the Founding Fathers, go to wallbuilders.com.
Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us today. Keisha Russell with us from First Liberty. Keisha, good to have you on, thanks for some time today.
Absolutely. Thanks for having us on.
Well, first, thanks to you guys for the incredible job over the last year or so just bringing attention to this issue of packing the court, the whole “Supreme Coup” thing that you guys did with the website and the ad campaigns, I mean, you brought a ton more attention to this, I think than any other organization out there. So, big, big, big thank you for staying off top of this from the very beginning.
Yeah, you’re welcome. We’re really excited about the impact that it’s had. And we just really wanted the American people to understand just the danger of court-packing. And I’m happy to explain like this is not the same as just confirming a new justice or replacing a justice, this is adding seats to the court, and making sure you put people on the court who are going to do exactly what you want politically. So it essentially ruins judicial independence, and essentially would ruin our freedom.
You know, I hate to be so jaded and cynical, but it seems like the left was perfectly happy with nine as long as they had a majority of that nine, and we’re getting all the policies they wanted that they couldn’t get through legislatures done at the court. Now, all of a sudden, they’re starting to lose major battles, potentially, in the next year, huge issues on life and the Second Amendment and other things, and all of a sudden, they’ve decided wait, nine might not be enough. Am I too cynical?
No. I mean, I think that’s right. I mean, I think as long as they were in the majority, it was fine. And the decisions were going the way they wanted them to. Even when arguably, those decisions were not in keeping with the Constitution and the separation of powers, and there have been a lot of decisions that I think that conservatives would argue are legislative in nature. And so yeah, I mean, I think that’s probably pretty accurate, at least I’ll say so personally.
Alright. Well, let’s talk about the process over the last 10 months or so. So, President Biden put together this commission, I think, hoping that it would come out and really support what he wanted to do, which was add as many seats as necessary to get another left leaning court for the next decade or two. It looks like they haven’t done that. They’ve actually warned against that. They kind of tell both sides, but I mean, they definitely articulate what you guys have been saying, what we’ve been saying that this could really undermine any trust in the court and really make the court even more of a legislative body instead of what it should be.
Yeah, so it was a 34 member commission. They held about six public meetings and called 44 witnesses. And essentially, to our surprise, and I think a lot of people surprised they decided not to take a position on it. They detail the pros and cons of court-packing. So the cons, obviously, very strongly cited a lot of the data that First Liberty released over the last year and really just came to the conclusion that they just weren’t going to take position. And they said that there were some really stark contrasting opinions between the members of that commission and they said that that really reflected essentially what they feel is going on in the public about it, that some people are strongly for it, some people are strongly against it. But this is actually a really, really big deal because you would expect a commission like that to come out for it. And instead of coming out against court-packing, they’ve just decided, okay, we’ll just say we take no position at all…
And that’s because it’s a panel appointed by the President, right?
I mean, he chose these people to serve, hoping for our particular… Didn’t some resigned in the beginning, some of the conservative appointee said this is too biased and left, or am I imagining that?
No, yeah, yeah. There were a few, I believe there are about two or three that said that they didn’t want to participate any longer. So, yeah, in my recollection, that is correct.
And I had to make, Keisha, I have not yet at the time of this interview read the 300-page report. I’m thinking it’s going to be my sleep aid. It’ll last about a month. I mean, every night I’ll be able to go to sleep after reading three pages of this. But anyway, so I haven’t read it yet, but I did read the highlights. And so not only on the court-packing thing, the thing I was most excited about, was at least what I scan and read in the headlines. They did the pros and cons also of term limits for federal judges, something I’ve actually been for, for a really long time. So I was glad they at least debated this and discussed it. What do you think of that part of it?
Yeah, I mean, they did discuss the term limit. And they also discussed even like judicial review, requiring a supermajority of the justices in order to invalidate an Act of Congress.
Yeah. And they talked about jurisdiction for the courts. And I mean, it was pretty broad, it wasn’t just about court-packing. But most of it is about the power of the judiciary, and essentially stripping that power or altering that power in a way that becomes easier to control by whoever is in charge, the political party in authority at the time. So yeah, in addition to all of those things, we were just, I think, really proud and pleased to see that the commission, at least we think tried to be as neutral as possible.
How do you think he responds to this? I mean, if the group that you were hoping was really going to give you the “scholarly support” to take this drastic move that hasn’t been tried since FDR, and even the President himself said that was boneheaded whenever FDR tried to do it, how do you think he responds to the very group that he was hoping would be backing him up on this? Does he drop it? Or do you think they still try to slam this through at some point?
Well, I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes up again, later, at least. But for the time being, I think it gives the President of reason to just kind of put it to bed for now and just say, well, the commission has made this decision I’m just going to leave it alone for now. At the very least, he was getting pressure from a lot of the Democrats to explore this issue and this gives them ammunition to table it for now.
I also wanted to ask you about just the general conversation out there, you know, people like you and me and Kelly and David and Tim, and we talk about this stuff all the time. It’s always on our mind. Most people don’t pay any attention to this, but all of a sudden, it has raised awareness to the court’s reason. You guys did so much over the last 10 months. Do you think that helps us going forward? I mean, it seems that helps us with our civic ignorance out there, if people not really knowing what the proper role of the court is, and even after this commission report really opens the door for conversations with people that wouldn’t normally be interested in this sort of thing?
Yeah, I think it’s all about tying it to something concrete for everyone. And I think most people realize that fundamental freedoms are really at risk right now. And when you demonstrate for them that judiciary is really vital to keeping those freedoms and ensuring we’ve got religious freedom and freedom of speech and those kinds of things, I think it really brings it home for them. And I think that’s really what our campaign did was really show people that look, this is something that will impact your whole life if it happens and giving them examples, like what happened in Venezuela with the court-packing and just how it really destroyed democracy.
And so I think just keeping that concrete and making sure people can always tie it to their own lives. And I think as long as we’re continuing to do that, I think we will keep people engaged and I think people will remain concerned.
Best place for people to continue to follow your coverage of this, but also other things, I mean First Liberty, the website itself is the place to go donate, folks, we’ll have links at wallbuilderslive.com today. You really need to donate to these folks. They’re out there on the frontlines defending religious liberty for free all over the country and this fight on the “Supreme Coup” has been led by them to defeat this. So do that. Go to the website, but Keisha on the coup and continuing to monitor, because like you said, they could bring this back up, and I’m assuming you guys are going to stay on top of it. Where’s the best place to follow that?
Yeah, absolutely. You can definitely go to supremecoup.com and you can also go to firstliberty.com and all of the information related to court-packing will be there. You’ll find the link to obviously our “Supreme Court coup” website there as well. And if you want to know more about some of the cases we’re fighting, we just were at the Supreme Court yesterday in a case called Carson versus Makin…
Oh, that’s the school choice one, right?
Yeah. Yeah. So we were there. That’s one of our cases. And a lot of amazing things happening right now. So we want everyone to go and just keep track of that, firstliberty.org, sign up for our newsletter, and we’ll keep you updated on all of these things, we’ll summarize it for you.
You read my mind because I was going to ask you to fill us in on a couple of the latest cases before we let you go. But I didn’t warn you about that, that we were going to talk about that. Thank you for even bringing it up. Can I ask a little bit about the Carson case because that’s a huge one? I mean, that this is all about, you know, the left is saying you can’t have you can’t have school choice that allows religious schools to be included because they’ll indoctrinate the kids and yet the left is using the bubble schools to indoctrinate the kids. So the hypocrisy is hilarious to me. But the case itself, I mean, how did you all feel after the hearing?
You know, we felt pretty good about it. I mean, I think we’re in a pretty good position. I think a lot of the justices just really called this out as blatant religious discrimination. Even Briar who I think for the most part was pretty antagonistic towards our position, at one point said explicitly, this is religious discrimination. Now he goes on to say why he thinks it’s okay in this particular instance.
But there’s just no question, I think to us that the state is discriminating against these parents because of the choices that they want to make about sending their child to a religious school. And ultimately, I think it reflects a lot of the animosity going on in our culture towards religion and, specifically religious schools. I mean, you’ve seen the lawsuits against religious schools simply because they refuse to bow to the culture and change their beliefs. So and I think it’s hugely important that we win cases like this. And I also think it’s important that religious schools and religious people continue to maintain their position and stay firm.
Amen. Yeah, no doubt about it. I saw, I think it was slate or some other left wing outlet, but they were, I mean, literally use it terminology like these schools teach hate, they indoctrinate. Just because you teach the Bible, you’re now teaching, hate is unbelievable. The rhetoric is over the top.
Yeah, and is. And it is even during the argument. I mean, it was infuriating to me at some point because during the argument, people say things like, oh, these schools are teaching that men are superior to women, and all these things, that just are completely untrue. None of the schools teach that. And it’s just the people who are listening, I just think it’s so disruptive to allow the American people to listen to an argument like this and think that that’s really what’s going on. I mean, it’s so inflammatory.
And just so the listeners realize how important this case could be to them, a lot of states have really held back or not passed school choice options and allowed parents to be able to take the take the money and go to whatever school they think is best for their kid, which is competitions always going to be best. A lot of states haven’t done that, and cities haven’t done that because of the court striking down some of these things. So this could really open the door for a lot of our listeners for school choice to happen in their backyard, in their communities, in their states.
Absolutely. Now, a couple years ago, Espinosa has an opinion that basically said, look, the state does not have to fund private schools; but if the state does fund private schools, it cannot exclude religious schools because that is religious discrimination. Now, that was a pretty huge deal. Now, this case keep bringing it one step further and saying that, look, it doesn’t matter if you’re trying to discriminate against the school just because it’s a religious school or because they do religious thing, which is what this case is about. And I know it sounds unreal, but there really is that distinction right now in the law. And we’re just saying, look, it’s the exact same thing.
And so if we’re able to just to destroy that distinction, that will open up a lot of doors for religious organizations, not just schools, but I think religious organizations in the future. Just because a lot of these Establishment Clause arguments are completely erroneous and just has been used to destroy religious organizations and prevent them from participating in generally available benefits, like the rest of the community.
Yeah, that distinction is so interesting. Imagine that a religious organization formed for the purpose of that particular faith would actually want to live that out. I just can’t imagine that, that they actually want to act on their beliefs, unbelievable.
It’s sorry, like okay, well, you can be religious but you just can’t do religious things.
Yeah. Unreal. Unreal. Keisha, oh, so thankful for you please give Kelly our best. Everybody here at WallBuilders, we love First Liberty and we support you guys. So just keep up the great work. We want people to go to the website today firstliberty.com, make that contribution. Get on the email list so that you can stay informed about these cases. They are doing so much over First Liberty. You got to get on the email list to keep up with what’s going on. Keisha, thanks for all you all do keep it up.
Thank you so much for having us.
Stay with us, folks, we’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
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We’re back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks to Keisha Russell for joining us today on WallBuilders Live. Firstliberty.org is their website back with David and Tim. And guys, it feels like a Good News Friday at the beginning of the week here because this is one we talk a lot about throughout the year because incredibly dangerous what it would have done. So many victories right now that we’re seeing in the courts, in fact, Kelly that founded First Liberty came and talked at the legislators’ conference about all these great victories on religious liberty, all of that could have been wiped away if the packing of the court took place. And based on this report from the Commission, I would argue it’s going to be real difficult for him to get the votes to be able to get that done. Do you all agree with that?
Yeah, I think it’s definitely going to be difficult. And I think it’s also interesting that the commission was a little split, in which seems to me to tell me that it’s split along some political ideologues along people who weren’t really evaluating the evidence, because the vast majority of Americans are not in favor of it, the majority of legal scholars are not in favor of.
The question you ask Keisha, right, if you look the Democrats have not had a problem with this as long as they had the majority of these nine justices with their political leaning, and now that it doesn’t seem to have the majority of political leaning in the Supreme Court, now is when they’re exploring this notion of court-packing. Which, of course, you go back to the days of FDR, when FDR was looking at court-packing, it was because he wanted the Supreme Court to side him and some issues and the Supreme Court ends up saying, hey, we hear you, you don’t need to pack the court. We will go with you. We’ll work with you. And so he was able to use it as leverage to get some things implemented he wanted.
Nonetheless, it does seem like whether this was going to be a real tactic or just like leverage maneuver, at this point, the American people are not in favor of it. And even the Commission came back saying, yeah, we’re not really sure it’s a good idea. As she pointed out, there were some people still kind of in favor of it. But I thought it was so interesting that when you look at the Commission’s report, so many of the negatives they listed were the negatives, that First Liberty had highlighted for them saying, here’s all the problems with this. They’re like, oh, yeah, here’s all the problems and they’re basically citing First Liberty in what they’re doing.
So it does give indication again, of the value of organizations like First Liberty.
You know, Rick, as you pointed out, when these individuals who average Americans come under problems, legal issues, dealing with religious liberty, we saw it with vaccines, we saw it with military individuals being forced to retire because of the vaccine mandate, etc, there were groups like First Liberty who represented them for free. And when we’re in trouble, there are really good organizations we can reach out to help us, then they represent us for free because there are people that help fund them along the way.
So as you mentioned, firstliberty.org is a really good organization to contribute to as God gives availability and opportunity, the financial means to contribute to them because they are representing the normal average everyday American who are just trying to represent themselves as Christians. And also one of the great things is not only in things like this was the court-packing scenario, this have a national impact, but they win the vast majority of their cases, which sets a really good precedent for other states, other governors, other scenarios for individuals to be able to have the freedoms that somebody else had to go through this court case. But because they won the court case now, we have that precedent that we have the ability to practice the freedom because this court case was won by groups like First Liberty. So definitely encourage people to support First Liberty financially if you can do that.
Alright, folks, be sure and visit our website today, wallbuilderslive.com, as we said, at the top of the program, great time to make that last minute donation here towards the end of the year. Thank you for your support of WallBuilders Live. Also, want to encourage you to take action, become a Constitution coach, host a class in your home or at your church, biblical citizenship. That’s the answer.
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