Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday argued that some Democrats’ efforts to pack the Supreme Court is a “hostage-taking” move aimed to ensure there is a “sword dangling” over the justices as they weigh how they will rule in future cases.
The harsh comments from McConnell, R-Ky., came less than an hour before a group of House and Senate Democrats were set to unveil a new bill aimed at packing the court — increasing the number of justices from nine to 13.“It’s not just about whether this insane bill becomes law,” McConnell said. “Part of the point here are the threats themselves. The left wants a sword dangling over the justices when they weigh the facts in every case.”
McConnell added: “As the Democrat leader threatened just two years ago, Democrats want the justices to know that they will, quote, ‘pay the price,’ end quote, for rulings that Democrats don’t like.”
The court-packing bill is supported by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.; House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.; Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga.; and Rep. Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y.
“Our democracy is hanging by a thread. And the far-right majority on the U.S. Supreme Court is cutting it,” Jones said in a statement. “The majority’s doctrine is clear: if a law suppresses the right to vote, it is constitutional; if a law protects the right to vote, especially for Black and brown voters, it is unconstitutional. The American people have had enough.”
Markey added: “Republicans stole the Court’s majority, with Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation completing their crime spree… Of all the damage Donald Trump did to our Constitution, this stands as one of his greatest travesties.”
Markey went on to say that the Senate should “abolish the filibuster to ensure we can pass it.”
President Biden earlier this week signed an executive order creating a commission with a mandate to study whether he should attempt to pack the court, among other potential reforms to the federal judiciary. McConnell at the time called the commission “an attempt to clothe” an attack on the Supreme Court in “fake legitimacy.”
“But alas,” McConnell said Thursday, “the far left cannot even wait for the fake theatrics of the fake study to play out. Today Democrats in the Senate and the House have announced that they will once again threaten judicial independence from the steps of the court.”
McConnell said that the Democrats’ proposal would “destroy its legitimacy and guarantee the rulings that liberals want.” He cited comments by late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and current Justice Stephen Breyer opposing court-packing and said that the general public agrees with the justices.
“They see through this discredited concept,” McConnell said. “One survey late last year showed that a clear majority of Americans opposed packing the Supreme Court.”
McConnell also criticized how the media is treating Democrats’ court-packing proposal.
“If Republicans had introduced a bill to add four Supreme Court seats for the last president to full, there would have been weeks of wall-to-wall outrage on every newspaper and cable TV channel,” McConnell said. “Now it seems the main strategies are to either shrug off and look the other way ot to actively pay along and somehow lend credence.”
It’s unlikely that the court-packing bill will pass. Democrats hold a narrow majority in the House of Representatives and it’s not clear that moderates would go along with such a drastic effort — the Supreme Court has remained at nine justices since 1869.
Plus, the Senate would need to get rid of the filibuster for any court-packing legislation to pass, which Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have said they are against. Manchin has also publicly opposed court packing in the past.
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.