Senate Democrats are telling the American people they are ready to go all in on packing the Supreme Court if former Vice President Joe Biden wins the election in November. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) is the latest in a growing chorus of Democrats vowing to expand the court, calling the extreme legislation "long overdue court reform."
"This is long overdue court reform as far as I'm concerned, and I have been thinking about court reform and what we can do regarding the Supreme Court to make it so much more objective," Hirono said on CNN Tuesday.
Sen Hirono Insists Court Packing “Long Overdue," To Be Discussed “If The Dems Take Back The Senate"
"This is not something that a lot of us have not thought about," she added. But she acknowledged a "serious discussion" about packing the courts can only happen "if the Democrats take back the Senate."
Nine justices have sat on the Supreme Court for more than 150 years. The Constitution grants Congress the power to determine the size of the court, though the last serious attempt to change its makeup came during the New Deal, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt threatened to expand the court to as many as 15 justices. FDR's opponents accused Roosevelt of attempting to "pack" the courts with justices sympathetic to his policies after various New Deal programs were initially declared unconstitutional.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has so far refused to say whether he would approve of a Democrat-led effort in Congress to expand the court. Confronted by a reporter in Wisconsin on Monday, Biden dodged.
"It's a legitimate question. But let me tell you why I'm not going to answer that question: because it will shift all the focus. That's what [President Donald Trump] wants," he said. "He never wants to talk about the issue at hand. He always tries to change the subject."
Previously, Biden publicly opposed expanding the court, telling Iowa Starting Line last year, "I'm not prepared to go on and try to pack the court, because we'll live to rue that day."
During a Democratic primary debate in October, Biden again opposed the idea. "I would not get into court packing," Biden said. "We add three justices. Next time around, we lose control, they add three justices. We begin to lose any credibility the court has at all."
But many Senate Democrats don't agree.
"Mitch McConnell set the precedent. No Supreme Court vacancies filled in an election year," Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) tweeted Friday. "If he violates it, when Democrats control the Senate in the next Congress, we must abolish the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court."
Among the Democratic senators who ran for president in the primary, Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said they were open to the idea of expanding the courts.