By ZION DECOTEAU
Three prominent Senate Republicans on Thursday blasted congressional progressive Democrats’ plans to expand the Supreme Court from nine to 13 members as “a radical plan” to remake the judicial body into a “rubber-stamp” for liberal policies.
“Democrats are trying to pack the court to turn it into a super legislative body, so that they are going to have people that are going to rubber stamp everything that they believe in,” said Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn, further arguing that Democrats use the gambit to push issues like the environment, LGBTQ rights and abortion.
Ms. Blackburn was joined by powerhouse senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Lindsay Graham of South Carolina in a joint show of staunch opposition to what they brand as court packing.
“What we shouldn’t be debating is a radical plan to destroy the United States Supreme Court, to destroy judicial independence..” declared Cruz.
The conservative lawmakers added that expanding the court to achieve ideological majorities threatened the independence of the legislative branch as neutral examiners of the law rather than political tools. Even President Joe Biden — though he has avoided speaking directly on the issue during his Presidency and campaign — as a senator in 1983 denounced the idea, calling it “boneheaded” and “a terrible mistake to make.” He compared the notion to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s abortive plan to expand the court in 1939.
However, progressives like New York Rep. Ed Markey (D) have argued that a conservative majority would lead to a dominantly right wing interpretation of laws by the court, creating a case of minority rule as not every American agrees with Republican values. Markey and his colleagues said such a move was legal and answer former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to consider President Barack Obama’s appointment in 2016 of Merrick Garland to the high court and other measures designed to tilt the body to the right wing.
Still, the conservative trio balked at the progressive expansion plans, and went on to characterize liberals as hypocrites:
“Could you even imagine what Joy Reid [liberal cable news commentator] and her MSNBC friends would be saying if Republicans tried to pack the court,” said Blackburn. “They would just lose it” said Blackburn.
Cruz alleged that the Republicans could have expanded the court if they wanted to — but didn’t — back when they had a bicameral majority and president in 2017.
“You didn’t see Republicans when we had control of the senate try to rig the game,” Cruz said. “There was nothing that would have prevented Republicans from doing what they are doing other than respect for the rule of law, other than basic decency.”
Lindsey Graham speculated that President Biden may eventually support the controversial plan because he wants to be “the most progressive Democrat since FDR”, and wants to appease yet retain party control from progressives like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D – NY). Graham contended that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D – NY) was being pressured by “the most extreme people in the House and quite frankly the Senate” to support court packing.