Senator Ed Markey uses Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to expand U.S. Supreme Court

Ed Markey commits to expanding the U.S. Supreme Court if Barrett is approved for the Supreme Court.

Updated: October 1, 2020 - 6:35pm

Democratic Sen. Ed Markey says he will attempt to end the filibuster rule in the chamber that prevents a political party from adding more justices to the Supreme Court if President Trump and Senate Republicans succeed, as expected, in getting nominee Amy Coney Barrett appointed to the high court.

"I will do everything in my power to block the nomination being confirmed of Amy Coney Barrett," Markey said during a recent campaign stop in Massachusetts. "If the Republicans are successful in jamming it through, I will vote next year to end the filibuster so we can expand the Supreme Court to get back the seats which have been stolen by the Republicans over the last four years."

Barrett, if confirmed by Senate Republicans, who hold 53 of the 100 Senate seats, would replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last month. 

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has not supported the so-called "packing" of the Supreme Court in an effort to add justices and dilute what would be a 6-3 conservative majority if Barrett replaces Ginsburg.

When asked about expanding the Supreme Court in a Sept. 27 press conference, following Ginsburg's death, Biden dodged the question.

"I know you're gonna be upset with my answer, but what I'm not gonna do is play the Trump game, which is a good game he plays — take your eye off the issue before us," Biden responded. 

"If I were to say yes or no to that, that becomes a big issue," he added. "That's the headline here.”

Some of Biden's fellow Democrats were warm to the idea during the presidential primary season.

Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said they would not rule out expanding the Supreme Court if elected president.

"We are on the verge of a crisis of confidence in the Supreme Court," Harris told POLITICO. "We have to take this challenge head on, and everything is on the table to do that."

In addition, Biden is getting pressure to "pack the courts" from the progressive wing of his party, which includes Markey.

Two Democratic progressive groups, Demand Justice  and Indivisible, are also leading the grassroots efforts to expand the Supreme Court, as part of a larger criminal justice reform initiative.

They are more than transparent about their motives on their websites. 

Brian Fallon, a former aide to Hillary Clinton, spearheads Demand Justice. 

"To balance out Trumps ideologically extreme, illegitimate picks, we should add justices to the Supreme Court to ensure the next Democratic president can nominate justices who will restore balance to the Court. This proposal is immediately actionable. Congress can change the number of justices on the Court at any time, as it has done 7 times throughout American history," reads Demand Justice's website.

The website also states that Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigeig "have said that Democrats should consider adding seats to the Supreme Court."

A statement on the Indivisible's website reads: "In order to undo the damage that Republicans have done, we need to get serious about reforming the highest court. There are multiple proposals on the table to achieve this (from a 15-justice Supreme Court panel that operates like every other appellate court to a straightforward expansion from 9 to 13), but doing nothing and hoping for the best is simply not an option."

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