Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have united to blast Mitch McConnell’s ‘blatant, nasty hypocrisy’ over the Supreme Court pick and to urge voters to pressure GOP senators into delaying Donald Trump’s nominee until after the election.
AOC and Schumer joined forces for a press conference Sunday night outside James Madison High School in Brooklyn, that both Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Schumer attended.
The two Democrats warned that the rights of Americans are at risk if Trump plows ahead with his plans to appoint a new justice before the election and urged people to call their Senators and demand they respect Ginsburg’s dying wish.
They said ‘all options are now on the table’ to stall Trump’s Supreme Court nomination, including pursuing the impeachment of the president and AG Bill Barr.
Ginsburg said her ‘most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed’ in the days leading up to her death Friday.
The president on Saturday urged the GOP-run Senate to consider ‘without delay’ his upcoming nomination to fill her seat.
The move comes just six weeks before the election and has sparked fierce debate, with many Democrats – as well as some Republicans – insisting the seat must not be filled until after the election.
The crux of the debate centers around the move made by Republicans back in 2016 – and led by McConnell – to block then-President Barack Obama from appointing a new justice to the court nine months before the election.
Their argument at the time was that the position should not be filled until a new president was elected by the American people – a standard set by the Republicans that the Democrats now argue the party must continue to honor.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have united to say ‘all options are now on the table’ to stall Trump’s Supreme Court nomination – including impeaching the president and AG Bill Barr – as they blast Senate Leader Mitch McConnell for his ‘blatant, nasty hypocrisy’
Democrats have put several options forward to stall or counteract Trump rushing through the appointment for Ginsburg’s replacement, with several including Rep. Joe Kennedy III threatening to pack the Supreme Court while others such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have not ruled out pursuing impeachment charges.
AOC echoed the possibility of pursuing impeachment charges Sunday saying there has been ‘an enormous amount of lawbreaking’ under Trump’s watch and branding Barr ‘unfit for office’.
‘I believe that certainly there has been an enormous amount of lawbreaking in the Trump administration,’ she said, when asked about impeachment.
‘I believe Attorney General Bill Barr is unfit for office and that he has pursued potentially law-breaking behaviors.’
She said America must ‘use every tool at our disposal’ and turn to ‘unprecedented ways’ to stall the appointment and that means putting all options ‘on the table’.
‘I believe that also we must consider again all the tools available to our disposal and all these options should be entertained and on the table,’ she said.
An impeachment would force the US Senate to hold a trial, delaying its ability to appoint Ginsburg’s successor.
AOC warned of the risks to the American public if Trump picks a replacement prior to the election.
‘It’s extraordinarily important that we understand the stakes of this vacancy,’ she said.
‘Our reproductive rights are on the line. Our labor rights are on the line. Our rights to healthcare are on the line. Labor and union protections are on the line. Our climate is on the line.
‘With an early appointment all our rights, the rights that so many people died for… are at risk.’
The Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district spoke of the need to ‘buy ourselves some time’ by using ‘every procedural tool available’.
‘We all need to be more courageous and we all must act in unprecedented ways to make sure our rights are stabilized’ and that ‘the American people have their say’.
AOC (pictured) echoed the possibility of pursuing impeachment charges Sunday saying there has been ‘an enormous amount of lawbreaking’ under Trump’s watch and branding Barr ‘unfit for office’
Schumer said he was also willing to consider radical options including the possibility of packing the court
She called on the public to contact US senators and demand they hold off an appointment.
‘We need to make sure that we mobilize on an unprecedented scale to ensure that this vacancy is reserved for the next president and we must use every tool at our disposal,’ Ocasio-Cortez said.
‘Everyday people need to call on senators to hold this vacancy open.’
AOC had stern words for McConnell over his aboutface on the process, saying ‘we need to tel him that he is playing with fire’.
Schumer blasted McConnell’s ‘blatant, nasty hypocrisy’ after he said Friday that Trump’s nominee would be voted for by the Senate despite insisting in 2016 that a Supreme Court vacancy should not be filled until after the election.
‘If you want to get back at Mitch McConnell’s blatant, nasty, hypocrisy call your senator and tell them not to listen to Mitch McConnell and not to be afraid of Mitch McConnell and to do the right thing – to stand up and do just what is fair and right and to adhere to RBG’s final wish,’ Schumer said at the press conference.
He pointed out the time difference between the Merrick Garland case in 2016 which came nine months before the election and today with just six weeks before election night.
‘I quote Mitch McConnell what he said four years ago when Merrick Garland was nominated that when it is close to the election the next president should decide,’ he said.
Schumer blasted McConnell’s (pictured) ‘blatant, nasty hypocrisy’ after he said Friday that Trump’s nominee would be voted for by the Senate despite insisting in 2016 that a Supreme Court vacancy should not be filled until after the election
‘People are already voting – it’s just a few days away. We are not close to an election. We are in an election,’ he said, pointing to the early voting already under way in Virginia.
‘To try and decide this at this late moment is despicable and wrong and against democracy,’ he continued.
‘It’s shoving the wishes of the hard right and the wishes of the Republicans that go along with them down Americans’ throats.’
Schumer pointed to a Reuters poll that found 62 percent of Americans do not believe the seat should be filled until after the election, saying this was further proof the Trump administration would be going against the wishes of the public by pushing through the appointment.
‘That’s such a high number it has to mean Democrats, Republicans and independents have to agree that it is only right and only fair to abide by RBG’s last wish that she be replaced when a new president is installed,’ he said.
He reinforced AOC’s calls on the public to pressure senators to keep to the standard set by Republicans in 2016, saying ‘we only need two more senators to say they will abide by RBG’s wish.’
Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins have both publicly said the chamber should not vote before the election.
Schumer said he was also willing to consider radical options including the possibility of packing the court.
‘It will be a decision that comes to the Senate. We first have to win the majority before that can happen… but everything is on the table,’ Schumer said when asked by reporters.
Their comments come as several Democrats have vowed the party will expand the size of the court if they capture the Senate in November and Republicans have already pushed through a conservative successor to Ginsburg.
Joe Kennedy III, who represents Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District and is the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, tweeted Sunday: ‘If he holds a vote in 2020, we pack the court in 2021. It’s that simple.’
Joe Kennedy III, who represents Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District and is the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy
Kennedy III tweeted: ‘If he holds a vote in 2020, we pack the court in 2021. It’s that simple’
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler wrote on Twitter: ‘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.’
And Sen. Ed Markey tweeted Friday: ‘Mitch McConnell set the precedent. No Supreme Court vacancies filled in an election year.
‘If he violates it, when Democrats control the Senate in the next Congress, we must abolish the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court.’
Senator Elizabeth Warren, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, as well as former Rep. Beto O’Rourke had already raised the possibility of adding as many as six seats to the nine-seat court, long before Ginberg’s death.
While running as a Democrat presidential candidate against Biden, Buttigieg was one of the first to put the idea of a Supreme Court expansion back on the table last March.
He said he would restructure the Supreme Court, expanding it to 15 justices with five justices selected by the court itself through a unanimous vote in a move that would help ‘de-politicize’ it.
O’Rourke also called it ‘an idea we should explore’ at a campaign stop in Iowa around the same time.
‘What if there were five justices selected by Democrats, five justices selected by Republicans and those 10 then pick five more justices independent of those who picked the first 10,’ O’Rourke said.
‘I think that’s an idea we should explore.’
Several Democrats have threatened to pack the Supreme Court next year if Trump plows ahead and nominates a justice to full RBG’s position
What is court packing?
Court packing is the move to appoint extra justices to the Supreme Court.
It is a move several Democrats have proposed if the party takes control of the Senate in order to increase the presence of liberal justices on the bench.
Franklin D. Roosevelt made attempts to pack the court back in 1937 when the Republican president wanted to pass his New Deal laws and needed more conservative justices in the court to vote in favor of them.
Roosevelt’s attempts failed and he was criticized by both Democrats and Republicans for the move.
However Democrats argue court packing will be necessary to rebalance the court if President Trump does not wait until after the presidential inauguration to appoint Justice Ginsburg’s replacement.
The issue in contention is that Republicans barred President Obama from appointing a justice in the election year in 2016.
Many Democrats say this meant the seat – finally filled by a Trump nominee after he entered the White house – was ‘stolen’ by Republicans and that if Republicans now do the very same thing they banned Democrats from doing in 2016 by rushing through an appointment, Democrats will then be within their rights to rebalance the court.
He also suggested putting term limits on justices rather than the current tenure until retirement or death.
‘There’s another idea of adding term limits on those justices so that there’s a more regular rotation through there,’ he said.
‘We’re a country of 320 million people. There’s got to be the talent and the wisdom and the perspective and that court should be able to reflect the diversity that we are composed of.’
Harris, Biden’s running mate, has also said she wouldn’t rule out court packing in the past.
‘We are on the verge of a crisis of confidence in the Supreme Court,’ she said in March 2019.
‘We have to take this challenge head on, and everything is on the table to do that.’
Warren said around the same time the focus should be on ‘depoliticizing’ the court and that adding more judges is ‘a conversation that’s worth having.’
Democrat presidential hopeful Joe Biden is yet to wade in on the fresh debate around packing the court since Ginsburg’s death.
However, back in 2019, Biden spoke out against the practice.
‘No, I’m not prepared to go on and try to pack the court, because we’ll live to rue that day,’ he told Iowa Starting Line in July 2019.
As long as the GOP holds a majority in the Senate, it’s unlikely a Democratic president could add more justices.
Since 1869 nine justices have served on the nation’s highest court.
However there is no set requirement on how many justices there should be in the Supreme Court, and Congress can change the number by passing an act signed by the president.
While there are nine now, George Washington had six and Abraham Lincoln had 10, for example.
Democrats have argued Republicans set a standard in 2016 by preventing an appointment during an election year and so the standard must now be maintained
That said, the concept of court packing is a controversial one.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to pack the court with 15 in 1937 after watching the high court deal setbacks to his New Deal initiatives.
He sought to expand the court to as many as 15 judges but many Republicans – as well as some Democrats – opposed his plan, slamming it as a move to enable him to appoint judges that would push through his laws.
The bill was unpopular and ultimately stalled.
Ginsburg herself also criticized the move prior to her death, telling NPR in an interview last year that it is a ‘bad idea’ and would ‘make the court appear partisan’.
‘Nine seems to be a good number. It’s been that way for a long time,’ she said.
‘I think it was a bad idea when President Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the court.’
‘Well, if anything would make the court appear partisan, it would be that.
‘One side saying, ‘When we’re in power, we’re going to enlarge the number of judges, so we would have more people who will vote the way we want them to.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (pictured back in February) died Friday after a battle with cancer. Her dying wish was ‘that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not spoken about the option of court packing bu has refused to rule out pushing forward a privileged impeachment resolution that would have the effect of eating up Senate floor time and potentially stall the nomination.
‘We have our options. We have arrows in our quiver that I’m not about to discuss right now but the fact is we have a big challenge in our country,’ she told ABC’s ‘This Week‘ when asked about the prospect.
‘This president has threatened to not even accept the results of the election,’ Pelosi continued.
‘Our main goal would be to protect the integrity of the election as we protect the people from the coronavirus.’
When pressed on the option of expanding the size of the court, Pelosi was less forthcoming.
‘Well let’s just win the election. Let’s hope that the president will see the light,’ Pelosi said.
The high court’s chamber and Justice Ginsburg’s seat was draped in black in tribute to the legal pioneer and champion of women’s rights
Ginsburg’s seat is draped in black. Several Democrats have vowed the party will expand the size of the court if they capture the Senate in November and Republicans have pushed through a conservative successor to Ginsburg
Packing the Supreme Court: For and against?
- Rep. Joe Kennedy III
- House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler
- Sen. Ed Markey
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren
- Mayor Pete Buttigieg
- VP candidate Kamala Harris
- Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke
- President Trump
- Joe Biden
- Sen. Bernie Sanders
- Former Rep. John Delaney
While court packing may be a divisive move, it comes as Democrats are scrambling to prevent Trump nominating Ginsburg’s successor – something that would directly contradict the stance Republicans took back in 2016 when the shoe was on the other foot.
Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016 and then-President Barack Obama planned to appoint Merrick Garland to fill the position on the court.
Republicans refused to hold hearings or vote on a replacement until after a new president took office with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying: ‘the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.
‘Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.’
The seat was not filled and two weeks after taking office Trump appointed his own choice Neil Gorsuch to the court instead.
In 2016, the position was empty nine months before the election, while Ginsburg’s death comes just six weeks before the nation heads to the polls.
Democrats argue Republicans set a standard in 2016 by preventing an appointment during an election year and so the standard must now be maintained.
They say Republicans ‘stole’ the seat that should have been filled by Obama, and so Democrats would be within their rights to add more seats to reset the balance.
However, McConnell issued a statement Friday after news of Ginsburg’s death broke that appeared to backtrack on his stance in 2016, saying Trump’s nominee would be voted for by the Senate.
‘President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the Unites States senate,’ he said.
Nancy Pelosi and members of the public paid tribute to Ginsburg outside the Supreme Court. Pelosi on Sunday refused to rule out pushing forward a privileged impeachment resolution to stall the nomination of Ginsburg’s successor
The next day, protesters gathered outside McConnell’s home to demand he stop pushing forward with a new SCOTUS pick.
Several Democrats have said it would be hypocritical if the president filled Ginsburg’s seat on the court before the election and have pointed out McConnell’s aboutface on such a move.
‘The Senate should not consider a Supreme Court nomination until after the presidential inauguration,’ Senator Dianne Feinstein tweeted Sunday.
‘Those aren’t my words, they’re the words of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham.’
Feinstein shared McConnell’s pledge in 2016 to block the Democrats from appointing a new justice and also quoted comments made by Graham in 2018.
‘If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait till the next election,’ Graham said back in October 2018.
Obama on Friday penned a Medium blog paying tribute to Ginsburg and insisting Trump must not appoint a new justice until after the election because the Republicans refused to allow him to do the same thing back in 2016.
‘Four and a half years ago, when Republicans refused to hold a hearing or an up-or-down vote on Merrick Garland, they invented the principle that the Senate shouldn’t fill an open seat on the Supreme Court before a new president was sworn in,’ he wrote.
‘A basic principle of the law — and of everyday fairness — is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment… As votes are already being cast in this election, Republican Senators are now called to apply that standard.’
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s failed attempt to pack the court
The only other time court packing has been attempted was in 1937 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried and failed to make the major change to the Supreme Court.
Roosevelt’s plan was seen as a move to pass his unpopular New Deal laws.
In 1935, the Supreme Court had struck down three of his New Deal laws.
The House, Senate and White House were all Democrat-controlled but the court was led by 75-year-old Republican Chief Justice Charles E. Hughes and many of the older appointees voted down the laws, because included in one of them was a cut in Supreme Court pensions.
When Roosevelt won a second term in 1936 and soon after he proposed a new bill called the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 to expand the bench from nine to 15 justices, saying there was a need for an ‘infusion of new blood in the courts’.
The addition of six justices coincided with the number of justices over the age of 70 currently serving on the court.
Critics slammed the move, accusing Roosevelt of fixing the court with people likely to push through his laws.
Both Republicans and Democrats – even Roosevelt’s vice president John Nance Garner – were largely opposed to the plan and the bill to shake-up the court ultimately failed.
However, by the end of his second term, three justices retired and two died, meaning Roosevelt was able to replace all five.
Throughout his White House tenure, the president had appointed nine justcies to the court.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried and failed to pack the Supreme Court in 1937