Now that the Senate has confirmed Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, left-wing officials are calling for the expansion of the high court so that Democrats can add liberal justices if they gain control of the White House and Senate.
Democrats had been hinting at taking this measure ‒ commonly referred to as court packing ‒ since well before Barrett’s nomination, but calls to pack the Supreme Court have hit a fever pitch since her appointment by President Trump.
“This court is illegitimate, and must not be allowed to wreak misery on millions of Americans in service of a far-right minority and their corporate backers,” read a letter to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., signed by 21 elected New York state officials that was reported by The Intercept’s Ryan Grim. “Congressional Democrats must end the filibuster and pass legislation to expand the court. Should he win, Joe Biden must sign it into law.”
Federal lawmakers made similar statements upon Barrett’s confirmation Monday evening.
“Expand the court,” tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., before she accused Republicans of taking advantage of Democrats who they did not think would take action.
“Republicans do this because they don’t believe Dems have the stones to play hardball like they do,” she said. “And for a long time they’ve been correct. But do not let them bully the public into thinking their bulldozing is normal but a response isn’t. There is a legal process for expansion.”
Her suggestion was seconded by Justice Democrats, an organization that has backed progressive candidates in primary challenges against incumbent Democrats.
Ocasio-Cortez was also joined by her fellow first-term congresswomen Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.
“We must expand the Court if we’re serious about the transformational change the people are crying out for,” Tlaib said.
“Remember that Republicans have lost 6 of the last 7 popular votes, but have appointed 6 of the last 9 justices,” Omar tweeted. “By expanding the court we fix this broken system and have the court better represent the values of the American people.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., also appeared to be in favor of court packing, as she said “every option” should be available to “expand” American democracy.
“Every option needs to be on the table to restore the Supreme Court’s credibility & integrity,” Warren tweeted. “Every option to expand our democracy. Every option to ensure that all Americans have equal justice in our courts & representation in our institutions.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who at times has been at odds with the more left-wing contingent of her party, appeared to be taking their urging under consideration. When asked about the possibility of packing the court, Pelosi did not dismiss the idea and even called for further change.
“Should we expand the court? Well let’s take a look and see,” Pelosi told MSNBC before adding, “maybe we need more district courts as well.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was not surprised by any of this, telling Fox News’ Shannon Bream that “these are long-standing threats” that Democrats have been making since well before the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which led to Barrett’s nomination and confirmation.
“They may have ratcheted up a little bit lately, but this isn’t anything new,” McConnell said. “They’ve been promising to blow up the Senate by changing the filibuster rule, admitting two new states — [Washington] D.C. and Puerto Rico — to give them four new Democratic senators … They were talking about that earlier in the year. Nothing new, same old threats and intimidation by the hard left.”
Fox News’ Charles Creitz contributed to this report.