‘We would have no interest in that whatsoever…’
(AFP) President Donald Trump on Tuesday slapped down ambitious proposals being circulated by some Democratic White House candidates to expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court, dismissing it as election sour grapes.
Trump said Democrats were seeking to rebalance the nine-member court or draw it once again to a more liberal lean after the high court shifted to the right with the president managing to place two of his nominees — Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — on the bench.
“So if they can’t catch up through the ballot box by winning an election, they want to try doing it in a different way,” Trump said at a White House press event with his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro.
“We would have no interest in that whatsoever, it’ll never happen. I guarantee it won’t happen for six years,” Trump added, referring to his remaining time in office should he win re-election in 2020.
The remarks come as several Democratic 2020 hopefuls said they might seek to expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court if they were elected president, as the party looks to reclaim ground in the judiciary gained by Trump’s Republican Party.
Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand told Politico they would not rule out dramatic changes to the Supreme Court, including adding seats or instituting term limits.
Two others, former congressman Beto O’Rourke and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have openly floated the idea of five justices selected by Democrats, five by Republicans, and another five chosen by the other 10 justices.
“I think that’s an idea we should explore,” O’Rourke said last week at a campaign stop in Iowa.
Democrats were furious with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal in 2016 to hold hearings or a confirmation vote for then-president Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland.
Trump won that year’s election, and filled the vacant seat with the conservative Gorsuch.
It would be a steep uphill climb for Democrats’ proposed reforms to gain political support, with critics warning that a packing of the Supreme Court when a Democrat is president would be met with tit-for-tat responses by Republicans when they return to power.
© Agence France-Presse