President Donald Trump on Tuesday ruled out trying to expand the Supreme Court with new justices – or “court packing” as critics call it — even as the idea has gained traction with several Democratic candidates for president.
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“No, I wouldn’t entertain that,” Trump said in response to a question from a reporter with the Daily Caller at his Rose Garden news conference with Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro. “The only reason that [Democrats are] doing that is they want to try and catch up.”
Democrats have argued that the measure would be a tit-for-tat response to moves already taken by President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to get high numbers of conservative judges nominated and confirmed to courts across the country, as well as McConnell’s success in preventing former President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court Merrick Garland from ever receiving a vote.
Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and Indiana Mayor Pete Buggieg are just a few of the Democratic candidates who have entertained the prospect of expanding the court.
Once considered a proposal popular only among the political fringes, Trump’s back-to-back appointments of Supreme Court justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh revived ‘court packing’ as a mainstream issue in response to Democrats’ fears that conservatives could gain a majority on the court for decades to come.
Though legal experts have warned the move could further thrust the court into turmoil by turning it a body completely polluted by political maneuvering, an argument already leveled by some Democrats following the controversial Kavanaugh confirmation process.
The issue could also create a potential opening for Trump, as he has repeatedly cited the Supreme Court as a leading motivator for rallying his base in his victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
“If they can’t catch up through the ballot box winning by an election, they want to try doing it in a different way,” Trump said Tuesday. “We would have no interest in that whatsoever, that’ll never happen. I guarantee you it won’t happen for six years.”