Law & the Courts

Toomey, Sasse Slam Democrats’ New ‘Delusional’ Court-Packing Bill

Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) speaks during the third day of Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., October 14, 2020. (Patrick Semansky/Reuters)

Republican lawmakers rebuked Democrats’ new proposal to expand the Supreme Court from nine justices to 13 on Thursday, including Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), who called the bill “delusional.”

“Here are some facts: The Supreme Court isn’t supposed to be America’s super-legislature; Democrats don’t have some historic mandate in a 50-50 Senate to nuke the Court; the progressive activists who wrote this bill are high on their own supply; and a whole bunch of sane Democrats are quietly praying this thing dies,” Sasse said in a statement to National Review.

“The court-packing bill is delusional,” he added.

Senator Ed Markey (D., Mass.) will sponsor the bill in the Senate, while Representatives Jerry Nadler (D., N.Y.), Mondaire Jones (D., N.Y.) and Hank Johnson (D., Ga.) will serve as its advocates in the House, according to The Intercept.

The addition of four judges would give Democrats the ability to supersede the court’s current 6-3 conservative majority on the court. While the high court has had nine justices since the 19th century, the number of justices is not specified in the Constitution.

Sasse joins a number of Republicans who were quick to criticize the new proposal, including Senator Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), who supports a constitutional amendment to set the number of justices to nine.

“The job of a Supreme Court justice is to act as a neutral umpire who applies the law, including the Constitution, as written,” Toomey said in a statement to National Review. “Far-left Democrats, whose agenda has little support, want to circumvent the will of Congress and the American people by expanding the size of the Court and packing it with liberal, activist justices who will act as super legislators.”

“It is unfortunate that a constitutional amendment is even necessary in this instance, but protecting the legitimacy of the Supreme Court as an independent branch of government is essential,” he added.

Representative Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) similarly condemned the bill, asking in a tweet, “Does expanding the Supreme Court count as infrastructure too?”

Jones responded, “Yes,” with a heart emoji.

“Imagine if we reduced the number from nine to five and just kept the Republicans. You guys would go crazy,” Jordan added, according to the Washington Times.

During an appearance on Fox Business’s Varney & Co. on Thursday, Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) said Democrats’ objective is “to put four left-wing radicals on the Supreme Court to destroy the checks and balances” and “to destroy the independence of the judiciary.”

“In case after case after case, our fundamental liberties were decided by cases that were 5-4,” Cruz said. “We’re one vote away from losing our liberties … if they put four new radical leftists on the court, our free speech rights go out the window.”

“Our religious liberty goes out the window,” he added. “The Second Amendment is effectively repealed … and none of those is hyperbole.”

The proposal comes nearly one week after President Biden issued an executive order forming a bipartisan commission that will perform a 180-day study of potential changes to the Supreme Court, including court packing and setting term limits for justices.

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