Amidst Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s repeated refusal to say whether he will consider expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, publicly demanded on Sunday morning that people stop asking Democrats about court-packing.
“Stop asking Dems about packing the Court. We aren’t doing it. They are. In order to take away our healthcare,” tweeted Jeffries, while pushing two Democrat talking points about the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation battle.
Stop asking Dems about packing the Court.
We aren’t doing it.
In order to take away our healthcare.
— Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) October 11, 2020
The Democratic chairman’s tweet contains two Democratic talking points that have grown in popularity over the last few weeks. The first talking point? Republicans are actually the ones in favor of court-packing, and have been doing it for years.
To make this argument, Democratic politicians have recently been blurring the historical definition of court-packing—which has deep associations with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s attempt to expand the Supreme Court—in favor of defining the term “court packing” as filling judicial vacancies as they become available, as permitted by the U.S. Constitution.
During an NBC News interview on Sunday, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), the second highest-ranking Democratic senator, ignored a question about packing the Supreme Court by accusing the GOP of “packing the court over the last three and a half years.”
“They’ve taken every vacancy and filled it,” said Durbin.
Governor Steve Bullock (D-MT), the governor of Montana and a candidate for U.S. Senate, made the point more explicitly during a debate with Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) over the weekend, also accusing Republicans of packing the court for years.
“Four years ago, you said, ‘No, we should never confirm a justice when people are voting. Let the people decide,’ and now that’s the most important thing to you,” said Bullock, before adding: “You are packing the court right now.”
The second Democratic talking point, which was discussed in the aftermath of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, has been pushed by more moderate Senate Democrats, who believe that the Democratic Party should focus on the Supreme Court’s effect on health care, particularly in 2020 swing states.
The Supreme Court is also expected to rule on an Obamacare case shortly after election day, which Democrats have been hammering as an opportunity for Amy Coney Barrett to take away health care from people.
Durbin said as much in his Sunday interview on NBC News after he read off a list of people with pre-existing health conditions in states with a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, remarking: “So you wanna know the point we’re going to make? We’re making a point that this not only has an impact on the lives of so many innocent Americans, it could impact the members of this committee.”
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