Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is Running for President

The Story:

Pete Buttigieg (pronounced “boot-edge-edge”), the Mayor of South Bend (not a traditional springboard to the US Presidency) has begun a long-shot campaign for the Democratic Party nomination for President, regardless. He may even have found a way to stand out.

Standing Out:

In a crowded field of candidates, one of Buttigieg’s challenges is not merely to introduce himself but to become a brand in the minds of the primary electorate. He may have given himself a boost in this regard last week when, at an event, he spoke of “packing” the Supreme Court to move it leftward.

The term “court packing” has been used since the ’30s to refer to proposals to increase the number of seats on the Supreme Court in order to give a single President a chance to fill the newly created vacancies and change the ideological complexion of the body. Franklin Roosevelt notoriously attempted this in 1937 and exposed splits within the Democratic Party coalition in the process.

The Thing to Know:

Buttigieg did not actually endorse court packing. But he went surprisingly far in that direction at a Q-and-A appearance in Philadelphia. A questioner from the audience used the phrase. Other audience members laughed. Then Buttigieg replied, “I don’t think we should be laughing at it. Because in some ways it’s no more a shattering of norms than what’s already been done to get the judiciary to where it is today.”

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