Democratic South Carolina Senate candidate Jaime Harrison reacted to a question about the political fight to confirm Trump-backed Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court with a comment about the hypothetical reintroduction of racial segregation.
Speaking at a Wednesday “Pints & Politics” with moderators from The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, Harrison said that while he did not believe the size of the Supreme Court should change or grow “at this time,” his stance on expansion could be subject to change.
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“Some Democrats have floated the idea of expanding the number of Supreme Court Justices from the current nine. Are you seeing that should be looked at?” asked Schuyler Kropf. “Do you believe ‘nine is fine, don’t mess with it?’ Or, are you open to it at all and, if so, what number do you think would be more representative?”
“Well, listen. I’ve always thought of the Supreme Court as nine. I have never thought of it [as] more than nine,” Harrison replied. “So, that’s where I am at this point in time.”
He then took a swipe at the Republican incumbent, Sen. Lindsey Graham, for what Harrison called “L-I-E” lying to his constituents when he said in 2016 that Supreme Court vacancies should not be filled during an election year.
Republicans — including Graham — had boycotted the nomination of Merrick Garland by former President Barack Obama in 2016. Garland was proposed to replace former Justice Antonin Scalia, the conservative icon who died nine months before the election.
Kropf asked Harrison if his position was something that could potentially change.
Harrison said that he did not want to open Pandora’s Box by changing the filibuster or the Supreme Court.
“Now, let me say, if folks are starting to say well, you know, Plessy v. Ferguson needs to be established law again. … Well, let me tell you as a Black man who grew up in the South, I ain’t going to let that happen, right?” he remarked. “So, let’s be clear about that.”
“You know, I don’t look good in chains. I’m not going back to that,” Harrison continued. “Not that I think we would ever go back to that. And, I’m being a little foolish here…”
Plessy v. Ferguson was a landmark 1896 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation under the “separate but equal” doctrine.
Harrison pivoted, telling Kropf and co-moderator Jamie Lovegrove that he knows the power the Capitol has to transform “what goes on in this world.”
“Our system was created in this way for a reason,” he concluded. “And, unless there’s some compelling reason in order to change it — and it has to be extremely compelling where our democracy is on the line — I don’t foresee me supporting any effort like that.”
Although Graham has led in many of the race’s polls, Harrison and Democrats have been outspending the incumbent.
In a new internal poll conducted by GBOA Strategies for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Harrison leads Graham by one point in the Senate race.
In the same poll, they said President Trump is leading former vice president Joe Biden 49% to 44% in the state.
Both Real Clear Politics and the influential Cook Political Report show the race as a toss-up.
Reacting to Harrison’s comments, the National Republican Senatorial Committee Spokesperson Nathan Brand told Fox News that Harrison’s suggestions were “insane.”
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“Maybe the only person more unhinged than Nancy Pelosi is her close friend Democrat Jaime Harrison,” said Brand. “Between Harrison’s totally insane suggestions like Amy Coney Barrett would bring back slavery, and his close relationship with Hillary Clinton, South Carolinians know he’s way too liberal to represent them.”
Fox News reached out to Harrison’s campaign and has yet to receive a response.