Please Help ZNet
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had just three initial words to say Monday night after Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in as the latest Associate Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court following her confirmation by a 52 to 48 margin in the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate earlier in the evening.
“Expand the court,” tweeted Ocasio-Cortez, a sentiment widely shared as the only just recourse after the GOP under President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rammed through the third justice for the nation’s highest court in less than four years.
“Republicans do this because they don’t believe Dems have the stones to play hardball like they do,” the New York Democrat added subsequently. “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.”
Ocasio-Cortez is correct. Democrats—if they are able to regain control of the Senate and the White House, and also retain the House, in next week’s national elections—would have the power to make sweeping changes to the Supreme Court, including increasing the number of seats from the current nine. As MarketPlace recently noted: “Nine isn’t a number that’s set in stone—the Constitution doesn’t state how many justices must be on the Supreme Court. There were originally six justices on the court, with that number fluctuating throughout the country’s history.”
Shortly after Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet, her House colleague and fellow progressive Squad member Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) re-shared the message.
“Remember that Republicans have lost 6 of the last 7 popular votes, but have appointed 6 of the last 9 justices,” added Omar. “By expanding the court we fix this broken system and have the court better represent the values of the American people.”
Author and activist Naomi Klein joined about 350,000 others (as of this writing) by sharing, commenting on, or liking the message on the social media platform.
And other progressives with similar messages followed.
“If the current batch of Democrats won’t pack the court, we’re going to replace them and do it ourselves,” said radio host Benjamin Dixon.
Winnie Wong, political strategist and former advisor to the Bernie Sanders president campaign, tweeted: “Pack the court. Abolish the filibuster.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said that while Republicans “are popping champagne tonight to celebrate how they for shoved aside the wishes of the American people to steal a Supreme Court seat and impose their radical agenda on the country,” Democrats are not about to give up the fight.
“Every option needs to be on the table to restore the Supreme Court’s credibility and integrity,” said Warren. “Every option to expand our democracy. Every option to ensure that all Americans have equal justice in our courts and representation in our institutions.”
Following Barrett’s confirmation vote, progressive groups vowed to mobilize en masse nationwide to win the November elections and begin the immediate work of undoing the untold damage wrought by the Trump presidency and GOP control of Congress.
“By ramming through a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court that could be the deciding vote to overturn the Affordable Care Act in the middle of a pandemic, Senate Republicans have once again shown that they care more about power than people’s lives and livelihoods,” said Sean Eldridge, founder and president of Stand Up America. “Now, they will answer to the voters.”
“The only way to protect our health care, our democracy, and our fundamental rights is to elect Joe Biden and flip the Senate in eight days,” Eldridge said. “This illegitimate power grab leaves Democrats no choice but to reform our courts next year, including enacting term limits and expanding the number of seats to restore balance to the judiciary.”
Demand Justice, which has focused on stopping the rightward shift of the judiciary under Trump, vowed to fight back with a bold set of progressive reforms to the courts—including expansion:
“Amy Coney Barrett is a threat to the health and safety of millions of Americans,” said Meagan Hatcher Mays, director of democracy policy at Indivisible, the progressive advocacy group. “Mitch McConnell and the Republican Senate are a threat to the health and safety of our very democracy. And despite what McConnell may claim from the Senate floor, this isn’t over. If he thinks that we ‘won’t be able to do much about this,’ he should think again. We can and will defeat his disastrous agenda and restore balance to the courts. It all starts on November 3.”