The Democratic National Committee is contemplating adding a pledge to restructure the court system “to increase transparency and accountability” if Democrats win power in 2020.
The DNC is considering adding language to the 2020 Democratic platform endorsing “structural court reforms to increase transparency and accountability,” according to NBC News. The proposed amendment would also condemn Republicans for packing “our federal courts with unqualified, partisan judges who consistently rule for corporations, the wealthy, and Republican interests” as well as “blocking a Democratic president from appointing a justice to the Supreme Court.”
Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii told NBC she was considering a range of reform options including court packing. She said she has been “talking with people who have different ideas about what we can do — including adding to the court, including having certain circuit court judges cycle in and other ideas.”
A recent cancer announcement by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sparked talk about how a Supreme Court vacancy could impact the 2020 election. Democrats in Congress are still sour at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for derailing Merrick Garland’s nomination to the bench in 2016 by former President Barack Obama.
Democrats argue that Trump should not get to nominate a Supreme Court justice in an election year based on precedent, though McConnell made clear in 2016 that he blocked Garland’s nomination because Republicans controlled the Senate and Obama was a “lame duck” president. Should a spot on the Supreme Court open up this year, McConnell would still be in charge of the Senate schedule.
Trump so far has gotten two justice confirmed to the Supreme Court, justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. In the whole federal court system, the Trump administration is on pace to potentially appoint more judges than any one of the past five presidents in their first term. As of July 30, the Trump administration is tied with former President Bill Clinton for most judges confirmed up to that time, according to a tracker by the Heritage Foundation.
The Trump administration’s success in filling court seats is partly due to Democrats in the Senate using the “nuclear option” to get rid of the 60-vote filibuster for most judicial nominations, which the Republicans then expanded to Supreme Court nominations later.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has signaled that if a vacancy were to open up on the Supreme Court, Senate Republicans would push to fill it.
“Merrick Garland was a different situation. You had the president of one party nominating, and you had the Senate in the hands of the other party. A situation where you’ve got them both would be different. I don’t want to speculate, but I think appointing judges is a high priority for me in 2020,” Graham said in May.
“If you look into the history of the country, there had not been an occasion where somebody was confirmed in a presidential election year after primary started when you had divided government,” Graham continued.
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