Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) late Monday called for packing the U.S. Supreme Court just minutes after Judge Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed by the Senate to be the ninth member of the court.
“Expand the court,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter just minutes after the final confirmation vote. She later contended, “There is a legal process for expansion,” without elaborating.
“Republicans do this because they don’t believe Dems have the stones to play hardball like they do. And for a long time they’ve been correct. But do not let them bully the public into thinking their bulldozing is normal but a response isn’t,” Ocasio-Cortez also wrote.
The 52-48 Senate vote was largely along party lines, with no Democrat voting for Barrett’s confirmation. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) was the sole Republican to join all Democrats in voting against Barrett’s confirmation after Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said over the weekend that she would vote “yes.”
“Remember that Republicans have lost 6 of the last 7 popular votes, but have appointed 6 of the last 9 justices,” Omar also wrote. “By expanding the court, we fix this broken system and have the court better represent the values of the American people.”
Barrett was sworn in by Justice Clarence Thomas, who administered the constitutional oath, as the 115th associate justice on the Supreme Court a little over an hour after the Senate vote.
Democrats have since September threatened to pack the courts if President Donald Trump were to fill the vacancy left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ahead of the November election.
If they regain control of the Senate and White House in the upcoming election, Democratic lawmakers have said they will launch a court-packing effort aimed at what they argue would be balancing the ideological makeup of a bench that, by design, is to be independent of the legislative branch.
The U.S. Constitution does not require that nine justices sit on the Supreme Court, although that number has stood for more than a century. The size of the Supreme court has changed several times since the founding of the republic and the Civil War in the mid-19th century.
The first court included just six justices. About 20 years later, the number was reduced to five, but soon increased back to six. In 1807, Congress added a seventh justice. Several others were added in the 1800s, bringing the number to 10. The current number has remained the same since 1869, under the Judiciary Act.
Court-packing had previously been attempted and failed. Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937 had proposed legislation to expand the size of the Supreme Court to a maximum of 15 justices, apparently attempting to reshape the court’s ideology so it would stop striking down his “New Deal” programs.
Janita Kan, Isabel van Brugen, and Jack Phillips contributed to this report.