Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) called to expand the Supreme Court on Twitter, following the swearing-in of conservative justice Amy Coney Barrett on Monday.
Coney Barrett, who cemented the court’s 6-3 conservative majority, is President Donald Trump‘s third justice he has appointed in the last four years.
“Expand the court,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote of the Senate’s largely party-line, 52-48 confirmation.
“Republicans do this because they don’t believe Dems have the stones to play hardball like they do,” she wrote. “And for a long time they’ve been correct. But do not let them bully the public into thinking their bulldozing is normal but a response isn’t. There is a legal process for expansion.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) retweeted the messages, adding a note of her own.
“Remember that Republicans have lost 6 of the last 7 popular votes, but have appointed 6 of the last 9 justices,” she wrote. “By expanding the court we fix this broken system and have the court better represent the values of the American people.”
Adding more liberal justices to the court once the Democrats regain control of the legislature has gained popularity, particularly following Coney Barrett’s confirmation, which Democrats argued was unjust due to it occurring nearly a week before Election Day.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) argued in 2016 that no Supreme Court justice should be appointed to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia since it was an election year. The Republicans then blocked former President Barack Obama’s pick of Merrick Garland, leaving a vacancy for months that was later filled by conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch.
The blocking of Garland and confirmation of Coney Barrett indicated a double standard to many Democrats, who have since seemingly decided not to play by the rules and expand the court.
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), often been viewed as a swing vote on the issue, indicated during the Senate’s debate he would be open to the idea of expanding the court.
“Oh, no! Somebody is talking about breaking the rules and packing the court. Well, of course, Article 3 of the Constitution doesn’t establish how many members of the Supreme Court there should be,” he said.
King added, “I don’t want to pack the court. I don’t want to change the number. I don’t want to have to do that. But if all of this rule breaking is taking place, what does the majority expect?”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) noted Monday that Republicans may regret their decision to push Coney Barrett’s confirmation ahead of the election.
“The Republican majority is lighting its credibility on fire…. The next time the American people give Democrats a majority in this chamber, you will have forfeited the right to tell us how to run that majority,” Schumer said. “My colleagues may regret this for a lot longer than they think.”
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) indicated his support for expanding the court.
“Republicans have been packing the Supreme Court for years,” he said. “It’s our job now to expand the court and return justice to the judiciary.
Republicans have long criticized the idea of court expansion, despite the historical precedent for it.
The number of justices on the Supreme Court changed six times before reaching the number nine in 1869. Originally, the court had six justices, though that figured was reduced to five under President John Adams. His successor, President Thomas Jefferson, restored the sixth seat and added a seventh in 1807.
Congress then expanded the court from seven to nine in 1837, and President Abraham Lincoln added a tenth justice to the court during the Civil War. Congress then shrunk the court back to seven, and President Ulysess Grant added two seats back, creating the nine-justice precedent that exists today.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) wrote in a tweet that many Democrats’ desire to expand the court is an indication of power hunger.
“I hope Americans realize how dangerously brazen it is that Dems are openly calling to pack/expand the court,” he said. “They are literally saying that winning the Senate & Presidency wouldn’t be enough power, so they want more. If there was ever a reason to vote, this would be it.”
And President Donald Trump weighed in on the topic as well, rambling in a tweet that “Biden’s Handler’s [sic] want to expand the Court.”
“This would be very bad for the USA,” Trump added. “On top of that they don’t want to provide a list of who would be chosen for the Court. MUST HAVE A LIST OF THESE RADICAL LEFT JUDGES!”