As President Trump moves to nominate a candidate to fill the seat of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday, there are a growing number of Democrats threatening to implement a radical strategy and pack the Supreme Court if they take control of the White House and the Senate.
“If he holds a vote in 2020, we pack the court in 2021,” Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., tweeted on Saturday. “It’s that simple.”
“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,” Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., tweeted.
The idea of “packing” the court with extra justices -- attempted unsuccessfully by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1937 to force through parts of his New Deal that were ruled unconstitutional by the high court -- has bubbled away on the fringes of the party for years.
But it began to seep into the mainstream after Republicans refused to hold hearings for Merrick Garland -- President Barack Obama’s 2016 pick to replace Justice Antonin Scalia -- because it was an election year.
Consequently the seat was held open until after the 2017 inauguration of President Trump, who nominated now-Justice Neil Gorsuch. Many Democrats saw the seat as “stolen” as a result.
The Garland controversy has been cited by Democrats again now that Republicans are moving to fill Ginsburg's seat in an election year. They say that because Republicans refused to fill a seat in 2016, they should decline to fill this one in 2020.
Republicans, however, have said that the precedent is when the Senate is controlled by an opposition party to the White House.
Other Democrats have said that Democrats should consider court packing if the confirmation is delayed and occurs during a lame-duck session after Nov. 3.
“If Sen. McConnell and @SenateGOP were to force through a nominee during the lame-duck session -- before a new Senate and President can take office -- then the incoming Senate should immediately move to expand the Supreme Court,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler wrote on Twitter.
“Filling the SCOTUS vacancy during a lame-duck session, after the American people have voted for new leadership, is undemocratic and a clear violation of the public trust in elected officials. Congress would have to act and expanding the court would be the right place to start,” the New York Democrat continued.
It is unclear if Democratic nominee Joe Biden will back those calls. A number of his primary opponents, including his now-running mate Kamala ... (Read more)
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