Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) condemned as "illegitimate" a Democratic bill to pack the U.S. Supreme Court by expanding the number of justices who sit on the court from nine to 13.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.J.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) earlier this week introduced legislation to increase the number of justices who sit on the nation's high court. At a press conference announcing the bill, Nadler said Democrats were "unpacking" the Supreme Court — invoking an accusation from progressive activists that President Donald Trump somehow packed the court by exercising his constitutional power to appoint Justice Amy Coney Barrett to fill the seat vacated by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Democrats claimed Republicans had "no right" to fill the Supreme Court vacancy before the 2020 U.S. elections and accused Republicans of stealing the Supreme Court majority. Presumably, permitting Biden to fill four new Supreme Court vacancies would tilt the current 6-3 Republican appointee majority (on a body that's supposed to be nonpartisan) back toward the Democrats.
During an interview on Fox News Friday, Cotton told host Harris Faulkner that Democrats are making a "power grab."
"The whole point is a Democratic power grab. The Democrats are angry they don't have a liberal majority on the Supreme Court and they want to add four justices — shockingly, the exact number they would need to get Democratic-appointed justices into a majority on the court," Cotton said.
"Now, they may not be able to pass this in the Congress right now in part because the Senate is evenly divided," he acknowledged. "But part of this is the Democrats trying to push the boundaries of what is possible so if they win larger majorities at some point in the future, they'll put more pressure on their colleagues to vote for this and ultimately to pack the court."
Cotton cited Obama-era promises that illegal immigrants would not receive health care under the Affordable Care Act as an example of how the Overton window has shifted, pointing out how years later when Biden campaigned for president, most Democratic candidates supported government health care for illegal aliens.
"That's why it's so essential that we denounce it today as an illegitimate attack on the foundational principles of this country, the rule of law, and constitutional government," Cotton said of the effort to pack the court.
Packing the court is an illegitimate attack on the founding principles of this country and the rule of law. https://t.co/L3xfnRd0tr— Tom Cotton (@Tom Cotton) 1618589799.0
For now, the White House has declined to give its support to the congressional bill to expand the Supreme Court. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that President Biden will wait for the report from the commission he established to study judiciary reform before coming to a decision about the size of the court or other reforms.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said earlier this week that she does not intend to bring Nadler's bill to a vote in the House.