Ahead of the first meeting of President Joe Biden’s commission on packing the U.S. Supreme Court, state Attorney General Ashley Moody met with Venezuelan exiles and warned about court packing.
Moody met with exiles, including former members of the Venezuelan Supreme Court, who fled the country to evade authoritarian rule. Moody held a roundtable discussion in Miami on Tuesday, with 12 former Venezuelan judges, elected leaders and legal experts to discuss court packing.
“The exiles told the attorney general that court packing was a key component of the totalitarian takeover of Venezuela and has led to the imprisonment and torture of those speaking out against political corruption. President Biden’s Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States, which will explore adding justices to SCOTUS, is scheduled to hold an inaugural meeting online Wednesday,” Moody’s office noted.
“We should not silence the voices of those political exiles forced to flee Venezuela under the threat of an authoritarian regime. Nor, should we fail to connect the dots from court packing in the early 2000s to the chaos and destruction we see today in this failing nation state,” Moody said. “I am moved by what I heard from these brave exiles, many of them legal experts and justices of the Venezuelan Supreme Court in exile, about how court packing helped unravel democracy and destroy their nation. I am calling on President Biden and every member of his Commission on the U.S. Supreme Court to meet face-to-face with Venezuelan exiles and those from other nations who saw democracy fade and socialism prevail after similar radical changes to their nations’ highest courts. Look them in the eyes and hear their stories. Then, study how court packing has elevated dictators and diminished freedom and prosperity in South American countries.”
Venezuelan Supreme Court in Exile Chief Judge Antonio Marval offered his take.
“The refusal of the regime to accept that the legitimate National Assembly in 2017 elected the new magistrates in a democratic process, caused our persecution and forced us into exile. The rise of the Maduro regime in Venezuela should serve as a lesson to freedom-loving nations around the world. Destabilizing the judiciary through court packing sets a dangerous precedent that could ultimately lead to the demise of a democracy,” Marval said.
In 2004, President Hugo Chávez and the Venezuelan Congress packed the Latin American nation’s supreme court—adding 12 new justices. A majority of the ruling coalition, dominated by Chávez’s political party, named the justices by filling seats created by a law passed earlier that year—expanding the court’s size by more than half, from 20 to 32 members.