Support for Court Expansion Grows in the Aftermath of Amy Coney Barrett’s Confirmation in the Middle of an Election

10.27.20

Support for Court Expansion Grows in the Aftermath of Amy Coney Barrett’s Confirmation in the Middle of an Election

On Monday night, high-profile Democrats in Congress endorsed addings seats to the Supreme Court.

They joined progressive leaders, including current and likely incoming members of Congress, who have endorsed expansion.

Former Republican officials, thought leaders, and some of the Democratic Party’s most establishment leaders are endorsing or signaling interest in expanding the Court.

Sen. Angus King said: “The size of the Supreme Court is not fixed in the Constitution. It’s up to the Congress. It’s changed seven times over our history.”

Sen. Chris Coons said that while he’s “not a fan of expanding the court,” Barrett’s confirmation would mean that “we’ll have to look at what the right steps are to rebalance our federal judiciary.” When asked if that meant his mind was open to expanding the court, he responded “yes.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi left the door open to expanding the Court: “Joe Biden has given us a good path …. Should we expand the court? Let’s take a look and see.”

Rep. Jerry Nadler tweeted: “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.”

Rep. Dina Titus said: “That’s not in the Constitution and the size of the court has varied from five to nine. If this court is not passing laws that are in keeping with public opinion, I think it’s perfectly justified to expand the court.”

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder: “If [Republicans] are successful in placing a justice on the court, I think that what Democrats have to do, assuming that Biden is president and there is a senate majority for the Democrats, we need to think about Court reform. And at a minimum, as part of that reform package, I think additional justices need to be placed on the Supreme Court.”

Morning Joe Host Joe Scarborough: “By their own actions, these radical Republicans have no standing to protest future changes to the court’s makeup. They have made their own bed. Now it is time for them to sleep in it.”

Charles Fried, Ronald Reagan’s solicitor general, said: with the 6-3 conservative majority “poised to take a constitutional wrecking ball to generations of Supreme Court doctrine” and follow a pattern of “frankly reactionary decisions,” an expansion of the court under Joe Biden “might not only be necessary but it will be seen to be necessary.”

E. J. Dionne Jr. wrote: “It’s not court enlargement that’s radical. Balancing a stacked court is a necessary response to the right’s radicalism and (apologies, Thomas Jefferson) to its long train of abuses.”

Susan Hennessey, Lawfare executive editor and CNN legal analyst tweeted, “Elections have consequences. The Constitution allows us to right the grievous wrong Republicans have perpetrated. It’s time to restore the Supreme Court’s balance and legitimacy by adding seats and enacting reforms to finally end the GOP’s destructive gamesmanship. Now go vote.”

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