President Barack Obama’s first Attorney General has a bold ask of Democrats: He wants them to add two justices to the United States Supreme Court.
Eric Holder addressed Yale Law School on Thursday in an event hosted by the Yale Law School National Security Group. The 82nd Attorney General answered questions about how the Democrats could take back control of the government in 2021 if they win back the White House. Holder suggested by countering what he referred to as a “power grab” by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky).
BREAKING: In response to Q at @yalelawsch how Dems should respond to GOP “going low”,@EricHolder said if he were President & had Dem majority in Congress, he would "seriously consider adding two seats to the Supreme Court to make up for @senatemajldr powergrabbing antics."
— Pack The Courts (@PackSCOTUS) March 7, 2019
Holder said that if he were president, he would “seriously consider adding two seats to the Supreme Court to make up for McConnell’s power-grabbing antics.”
Those antics Holder is referring to are moves like McConnell’s refusal to even hold one confirmation hearing for President Obama’s SCOTUS nominee, Merrick Garland. McConnell’s excuse was that a confirmation for a new justice shouldn’t take place in an election year (even though he said he would be open to confirming one of Trump’s justices in an election year should he have the opportunity to appoint another one in 2020). McConnell even went as far as telling Obama that he won’t have a SCOTUS nominee confirmed before he’s out of office.
Meanwhile during President Donald Trump’s term, McConnell has been influential in the confirmation of two staunchly conservative justices to the Supreme Court — Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Patrick Roddenbush — a spokesman for Holder — confirmed to The Daily Beast that the former Attorney General did indeed support court-packing as a solution to bring balance back to a conservative-slanted government.
“…given the unfairness, unprecedented obstruction, and disregard of historical precedent by Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans, when Democrats retake the majority they should consider expanding the Supreme Court to restore adherence to previously accepted norms for judicial nominations,” Roddenbush said.
So far, the only 2020 Democratic candidate for president who’s been open to the idea of court-packing is South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg — who has also been vocal about abolishing the Electoral College. Buttigieg currently polls at less than one percent in a very loaded Democratic primary.
The top-tier Democrats seeking the nomination, such as Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), have steered clear of discussing court-packing and have largely ignored questions asked about the measure.
However, the proposal to pack the court also has another prominent supporter in Harvard law professir Michael Klarman. In October 2018, Klarman wrote on his personal blog that the Supreme Court had become “an adjunct of the Republican Party,” saying Democrats had a responsibility to add additional justices to the bench in order for the court’s partisan balance to be restored. However, even if a Democrat won the White House, a Democratic Congress would still need to pass legislation allowing for the addition of two new Supreme Court justices in order for the proposal to become a reality.
Brandon Howard is a Grit Post contributor, auto worker, and former public radio reporter based out of Lexington, Kentucky. Follow him on Twitter @mrpowerhoward.