With President Trump’s Supreme Court pick all but certain to receive confirmation from the Senate now that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has the votes, there has been chatter among Democratic circles that should should Biden win the White House and Democrats retake the Senate, they’ll simply add seats to the Supreme Court – changing the rules because they don’t like the outcome of a constitutional process that will leave the country with a 6-3 conservative court.
As Republicans show support for moving forward with a Supreme Court nominee quickly, @AOC tells me if that happens, “we should leave all options on the table, including the number of Justices that are on the Supreme Court.” Adds expanding is “absolutely” an option worth weighing. pic.twitter.com/9KgoyrmUkL
— Adam Harding (@HardingReports) September 19, 2020
Mitch McConnell set the precedent. No Supreme Court vacancies filled in an election year. If he violates it, when Democrats control the Senate in the next Congress, we must abolish the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court.
— Ed Markey (@EdMarkey) September 19, 2020
Now, top Democrats are walking back the idea – with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) who would chair the Senate Judiciary Committee if Democrats retake the chamber – opposing a move to nix the legislative filibuster, which would be the first step in adding seats to the highest court in the land.
“Well, I don’t believe in doing that, I think. I think the filibuster serves a purpose. … I think it’s part of the Senate that differentiates itself,” Feinstein said in a statement to the press.
#2 Senate Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois says it’s “way too soon” to discuss court packing, and warned that discussing it now isn’t helpful to the party.
“You’ll notice it’s the arguments being used by Sen. McConnell on the floor now. We have all these threats of changes in the future if we go ahead with this filling this vacancy. I think we ought to focus on the nominee, that nominee’s beliefs, and what they’re likely to do on the court in the context of the Affordable Care Act,” said Durbin.
And Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said when asked about comments by Markey and Rep. Jerry Hadler (who said the incoming Senate should “immediately move to expand the Supreme Court”) said “If that’s what Congressman Nadler is interested in, he should run for the Senate and make the motion,” adding “I’m not going to tell the House what they should do with their rules. I’m sure he’s got his hands full trying to get things done over there.”
Meanwhile, those who support court packing argue that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has vowed to block key Biden administration initiatives, should the former Vice President win the November election – on issues including climate change, healthcare and voting rights legislation.
“For some reason they cannot bear to see Republicans governing within the rules … so they threaten to wreck the makeup of the Senate if they lose a vote and wreck the structure of the court if somebody is confirmed whom they oppose,” McConnell said in a Tuesday speech from the Senate Floor.
Biden, who opposed court packing during the primaries and won’t release his list of Supreme Court nominees, has refused to say whether he’s still against the practice.