Ahead of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings this week, Democratic senators appeared across major news networks spreading a new talking point, accusing Republicans of court packing by fulfilling their constitutional duties of filling empty seats.
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough pressured Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to propose adding new justices to the Supreme Court Monday, accusing Republicans of “going back on their own words” and calling the addition of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the Court a “crude majoritarian chamber.”
“Why can’t Democrats constitutionally finish what FDR started back over 80 years ago and add a couple of justices in response to Republican radicalism?” Scarborough asked. “It’s constitutional and by Mitch McConnell’s standard, you would be in your right to do that, correct?”
“We would certainly be in the constitutional right to do it,” Schumer replied.
MSNBC’s Scarborough (@JoeNBC) urges @SenSchumer to pack SCOTUS: “Why can’t Democrats constitutionally finish what FDR started over 80 years ago and add a couple of justices in response to Republican radicalism?" pic.twitter.com/8DKQOSdIva
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) October 12, 2020
While President Franklin Delano Roosevelt did attempt to pack the Supreme Court in 1937 by adding up to six new justices so he could pass New Deal legislation that was outside of his constitutional authority, his plan failed and ultimately “injured his political power.”
Schumer criticized Senate Republicans’ willingness to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, claiming she would repeal the Affordable Care Act, Roe v. Wade, and labor unions, and accusing Republicans of enforcing their own version of court-packing by limiting the number of judges on the court
“There’s this idea that Democrats are packing the court. They’ve already done it,” he said.
He also pushed for Democrats to take back the Senate majority so they can be in control of federal judicial confirmations again.
“It’s not an easy fight but we’re doing well and then everything will be on the table, that’s all,” Schumer said. “But we’re not going to fall into the trap of debating that now after what they’ve done and when there’s so many substantive issues at stake that the American people care about.”
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois made similar allegations against Republicans in an interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press” when he made the misleading claim that Republicans confirming the judicial nominations left open by the Obama administration was equivalent to court-packing.
“It’s a common question being asked because the American people have watched the Republicans packing the court over the last three and a half years. And they brag about it. They’ve taken every vacancy and filled it,” Durbin said.
“It’s understandable that people are skeptical of the Republican message and are fearful of what’s going to happen if this Supreme Court nominee goes through,” he stated.
.@SenatorDurbin on Biden not saying if he’ll pack SCOTUS: "It’s a common question being asked because the American people have watched the Republicans packing the court over the last three and a half years. And they brag about it. They’ve taken every vacancy and filled it." pic.twitter.com/uCQSpqyvxB
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) October 11, 2020
Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii also pushed the Republican court-packing narrative, falsely complaining that Republicans filling empty seats with conservative judges in the judiciary is comparable to packing the courts.
“I’m really concerned about the court-packing with the ideologically driven nominees now sitting on the court, some 200 of them, that Trump has been putting on the court, aided and abetted, of course, by Mitch McConnell,” she said in an interview with CNN.
The interviewer, however, pushed back on Hirono’s misleading allegations, clarifying that simply filling an empty seat is not the same as adding new justices.
“Just filling a vacancy right now is not what is normally referred to as court-packing. It’s adding seats, but I think that you’ve said that you’re open to that as well,” she clarified.
Believe it or not, CNN’s @AlisynCamerota calls out Hirono for calling Republicans filling judicial vacancies “court packing”
"Obviously, just filling a vacancy right now is not what is normally referred to as court packing." pic.twitter.com/CbAQW7roLi
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) October 12, 2020
While many Democratic Senators have made their positions on court-packing clear, Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden continues to refuse to offer his stance on the issue, most recently claiming that voters “don’t deserve to know” if he will pack the court if he is elected.