Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted Democrats on Thursday, March 28, for failing to stand up against the “far left,” which he said is threatening the basic fabric of the American system of government.
McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, delivered his remarks from the Senate floor, and cited several recent examples of how the left wing of the Democratic Party has gained significant influence over the party’s agenda.
“After they failed to defeat Justice Kavanaugh last year, liberal leaders decided the underlying structure of the American judiciary needed to be radically overhauled,” McConnell said. “They set out to rehabilitate the absurd notion of court packing.”
Not since President Franklin D. Roosevelt has a court-packing scheme been attempted. The effort failed in 1937, when members of Roosevelt’s own Democratic Party voted against it. But the idea is now front-and-center in the effort to prevent President Donald Trump’s reelection.
McConnell said the very term has been synonymous with “an unprincipled power grab” for nearly a century.
“Instead of filling existing vacancies, why shouldn’t the next Democratic president just make up a bunch of new ones so the far left can stack the courts?” he said.
Elected officials often speak in partisan tones when criticizing their opponents, but McConnell’s protestations aren’t without merit.
Sen. Kamala Harris, (D-Calif.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, has already said that she’s open to packing the U.S. Supreme Court if elected.
“We are on the verge of a crisis of confidence in the Supreme Court,” Harris said on March 18. “We have to take this challenge head-on, and everything is on the table to do that.”
Harris, along with Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), was among the leading opponents of the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh—a Trump appointee—in October 2018.
The unprecedented attempt to block a 5-4 Republican-appointed majority on the high court included evidence-free allegations that Kavanaugh committed sexual assault at a high school party in the 1980s, and that he participated in gang rape. Left-wing activists also caused chaos during the proceeding, mainly targeting Republican members of the Judiciary Committee.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.), now-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, gave an impassioned speech at the time, against those willing to use such radical political tactics. “Boy, you all want power. God, I hope you never get it. I hope the American people can see through this sham,” he said.
When Kavanaugh was confirmed, Harris responded by saying the new court majority “threatens to cloud the legitimacy of the Supreme Court of the United States.”
White House contender Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has gone even further, saying that Justice Neil Gorsuch—another Trump appointee—is illegitimate because Gorsuch’s seat should have gone to outgoing President Barack Obama’s 2016 nominee, Merrick Garland.
The U.S. Constitution calls for presidents to nominate Supreme Court justices, but requires the Senate to confirm them. McConnell opted to block Garland in 2016—not without precedent—and instead let voters decide the future balance of the court. Liberals were enraged, however, when Trump unexpectedly won.
Democratic 2020 presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren, (D-Mass.), South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke have all said they are open to expanding the Supreme Court if elected.
But McConnell warned the move would destroy a longstanding bipartisan consensus and threaten the rule of law.
“Forget about interpreting and applying our laws and constitution the way they were written,” he said Thursday. “The far left wants to forget about all of that.”
Without naming Eric Holder, McConnell referenced “president Obama’s attorney general” for promoting the scheme.
Holder said earlier this month, “We should be talking even about expanding the number of people who serve on the Supreme Court, if there is a Democratic president and a Congress that would do that.”
McConnell also cited an activist organization dedicated to confronting Democratic candidates and officeholders on the issue. The group, called “Pack the Courts,” believes that the Supreme Court in its current make-up will not “allow Congress to restore Democracy.”
Pack the Courts’ campaign manager recently said in a statement that, “Court packing is the cornerstone of any attempt to un-rig the system, and that is why five presidential candidates have spoken in support of the idea, and why it will remain a central theme in the 2020 campaign.”
McConnell urged his Democratic colleagues to “have the courage to look these far left agitators in the eye and tell them that some traditions and some institutions are more important than partisan point scoring.”
He also blasted the so-called New Green Deal proposal to remake the American energy sector—and by extension, the economy—to combat climate change. The measure has been popularized by self-identifying socialist, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, (D-N.Y.), although many consider it totally unrealistic.
According to the American Action Forum, an organization headed by former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the plan would cost between $51 trillion and $93 trillion over 10-years. It could also usher in an unprecedented amount of government control over the country.
When McConnell brought the New Green Deal to a vote on March 26, not a single Democrat voted for it.
“After months of enthusiastic declarations of support, after tripping over one another to prove their devotion to the far left core of the new Democratic Party, the vast majority of our colleagues across the aisle were unable to vote against even an obviously ludicrous proposal to tank the American economy,” McConnell said.
“After their radical proposal met with such an inglorious end, my colleagues might choose to pause and take stock. Well, think again,” he added.
McConnell then turned to the sweeping attempt to reform the American election system, known as H.R. 1, that was recently passed by House Democrats. Many critics see the overhaul as a blatant attempt to gain a permanent electoral advantage.
“Just yesterday, our Senate colleagues introduced a Senate version of Speaker Pelosi’s legislation to rewrite the rules of American politics to benefit one side,” he said.
“When the Constitution, our institutions, or the American people disappoint our colleagues, instead of taking the hint and perhaps making their positions more mainstream, they look instead to change the rules,” McConnell continued. “This seems to be emerging as a kind of pattern.”