Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Chris Coons said on Sunday that the Senate moving to confirm President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett “constitutes court-packing,” and called the nominee’s views “disqualifying.”
Coons, D-Del., made the comments during an interview with “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., will also speak with Wallace Sunday.
“I’m going to be laying out the ways in which Judge Barrett’s views … are not just extreme, they’re disqualifying,” Coons said of Democrats’ strategy for Barrett’s hearings. “It constitutes court-packing.”
Court-packing’s traditional definition is expanding the Supreme Court by law and then confirming justices to those seats, not what Republicans are doing, which is filling a naturally occuring vacancy. Sasse shot back that Coons’ definition of court-packing was “obviously” incorrect and accused the Democrat of using “Orwellian” language.
“Claiming that court-packing is filling open vacancies that obviously isn’t what court-packing means,” Sasse said.
“What they’re really talking about is the suicide bombing two branches of government,” Sasse added, noting that if Senate Democrats — should they get a majority and Joe Biden be elected president — were to attempt to pack the Supreme Court they would likely have to do away with the legislative filibuster as well.
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Coons and Sasse are set to be on opposite sides of a contentious confirmation hearing for Barrett this week, as Democrats have said that they will do everything in their power to fight the Barrett confirmation and Republicans push seat the nominee on the Supreme Court before the presidential election.
Sasse has previously made his support of Barrett known, calling her “a brilliant jurist and an unsurpassed nominee” in a statement after meeting with her. Sasse added that “The left’s apocalyptic rhetoric will seem extra nutty when Americans hear from Judge Barrett at her confirmation hearings.”
Democrats, including Coons, have criticized Republicans for rushing the nomination and warned that Barrett may vote to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a case the Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in shortly after the presidential election.
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“President Trump has said he would only nominate someone who would overturn the Affordable Care Act, taking away health care protections from 100 million Americans in the middle of a pandemic,” Coons said Sunday. “Both President Trump and members of the majority on this committee have said they would only vote for a nominee who will overturn Roe v. Wade.”
Sasse, in response to accusations that Barrett might reach conservative outcomes like overturning either the ACA or Roe v. Wade, said that Barrett is a judge who will put aside any personal preferences that she has to rule on the law.
“The reason I think that Amy Barrett is a rock star and should be on the court is because she’s very clear about her jurisprudence. She’s an originalist and she’s a textualist,” Sasse said. “Which means when she puts on her black robe in the morning she knows what it is to be a judge and that is to cloak your personal preferences.”
Sasse continued: “Our judges don’t wear red or blue jerseys. They don’t advocate for policy positions. And we shouldn’t be having either Democrats or Republicans on the committee trying to figure out how can they define the future of how they’ll rule on particular cases.”