Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats on Thursday of wanting to “threaten” the Supreme Court by introducing legislation to expand the institution’s number of justices.
“Time and again, prominent Democrats show they are no longer content to work within the ground rules and norms of our institutions, but prefer to threaten the institutions themselves,” the Kentucky Republican said.
Noting that Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer himself once asserted the court “won’t know what hit them” if they ruled against his party, Mr. MConnell accused Democrats of trying to subvert “judicial independence.”
The remarks came shortly after two prominent Democrats, Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York, unveiled sweeping legislation to alter the nation’s highest court.
The Markey-Nadler bill would expand the number of Supreme Court justices from nine to 13. Although the legislation faces long odds, if successful, it would allow President Biden to tip the balance away from conservatives, who currently hold a 6-3 majority on the court.
Mr. McConnell, though, argues the legislation serves a more immediate effect, even if it has no hopes of passing.
“It’s not just about whether this insane bill becomes law,” the minority leader said. “Part of the point here are the threats themselves. The left wants a sword dangling over the justices when they weigh the facts in every case.
“Democrats want the justices to know that they will ‘pay the price’ for rulings that Democrats don’t like,” Mr. McConnell added. “The threats are the point, the hostage-taking is the point.”
Last week, President Biden created via executive order a special commission to examine ways to “improve the federal judiciary, including those that would expand access the court system.”
The commission, in particular, will look at “the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court‘s case selection, rules, and practices,” according to the White House.
Republicans have claimed the commission is stacked with partisan appointees.
Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, argued Thursday that if court packing or any of the other Democratic-led “reforms” were successful, the rule of law would be undermined.
“If Democrats pack the Court, our free speech rights go out the window, our religious liberty goes out the window, and the Second Amendment is effectively repealed from the Bill of Rights,” he said.