Senate Judiciary Committee member Chris Coons (D., Del.) on Sunday said that Republicans’ push to confirm Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett ahead of the November 3 election “constitutes court packing” and called the judge’s views “not just extreme,” but “disqualifying.”
Coons’s comments came during an appearance on Chris Wallace’s Fox News Sunday, in which he defended Democrats’ calls to add additional seats to the Supreme Court — the actual definition of court packing — in retaliation for the Senate going forward with Barrett’s confirmation hearings only weeks before the election.
“I’m going to be laying out the ways in which Judge Barrett’s views, her views on reaching back and reconsidering and overturning long settled precedent are not just extreme, they’re disqualifying,” he said.
“She has taught at a well regarded law school, she clerked for Justice Scalia,” Coons said, referring to Barrett’s roles as a professor at Notre Dame and a clerk for the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia. “But she has views that make her not qualified to serve on the Supreme Court,” he said, adding that evidence suggests Barrett would be in favor of overturning the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade
He then said the committee should not go on to hold its hearings this week in light of two members of the committee being infected with COVID-19.
“It’s rushed, it constitutes court packing, and her views are too extreme to qualify her to serve on this court,” he said.
When pressed about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s repeated refusal to say whether he would add additional seats to the nine-seat Supreme Court if he were elected, Coons deflected the question.
“For the last four years I’ve seen unprecedented court packing where nominees to fill lifetime seats in the federal judiciary who the American Bar Association said were not qualified got jammed through,” Coons said, seemingly changing the definition of court packing in order to avoid the question.
When asked on Friday whether voters “deserve to know” if he would pack the court, Biden responded, “[n]o they don’t.”
As the next guest on “Fox News Sunday,” Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) called Coons’ definition of court packing “obviously” incorrect, saying the Democrat had used “Orwellian” language.
“Claiming that court-packing is filling open vacancies that obviously isn’t what court-packing means,” Sasse said.
He added that it is “grotesque” that Biden has continued to avoid the “really basic question” of whether he will support court packing.
“What they’re really talking about is the suicide bombing two branches of government,” Sasse added, noting that if Senate Democrats — should they get a majority and Joe Biden be elected president — were to attempt to pack the Supreme Court they would likely have to do away with the legislative filibuster as well.