Progressive groups are reaching out to 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to support their push to expand the number of Supreme Court justices in order to diminish the current conservative majority.
So far, the drive by the group named ‘Pack the Courts’ is getting two maybes from Democratic presidential contenders and a no from a likely White House hopeful.
“I don’t think we should be laughing at it,” South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a Democrat, said last week at an event in Philadelphia.
“Because in some ways it’s no more a shattering of norms than what’s already been done to get the judiciary to where it is today,” added Buttigieg, an Afghanistan War veteran who last month launched a presidential exploratory committee.
Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who’s also launched a presidential exploratory committee, said last month on ‘Pod Save America’ that expanding the court or imposing term limits were “interesting ideas.”
But the move to increase the number of justices on the Supreme Court isn't flying with likely White House contender Rep. Eric Swalwell.
“I wouldn’t. I think nine is good number. It’s worked for our country,” the four-term Democratic congressman from California told Fox News on Monday after he headlined ‘Politics and Eggs,” a must stop for White House hopefuls in New Hampshire.
“I don’t want to let these extraordinary times that President Trump has put us in lead us to too many extraordinary remedies,” the former prosecutor explained. “I’d rather see us go back to a country of following the law, having qualified justices, and depending on the systems of government that we already have in place, just making those systems more accountable and work better.”
‘Pack the Courts’ told Fox News it is meeting with Buttigieg on Monday evening. The group highlighted that it’s in the process of reaching out to Gillibrand, as well as the campaigns of presidential candidates Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California.
“We’re in the process of reaching to every declared Democratic contender and hope to both enlighten them to the importance of this strategy for taking back the Court and enlist their support for their strategy,” ‘Pack the Court’ campaign manager Kate Kendell said.
Kendell said her group has received a $500,000 grant from the Palm Center, a progressive-leaning but independent non-partisan think tank in California to fund research on controversial and provocative policy proposals. She added they’re now beginning to raise small-dollar donations from individuals to further fuel their effort to expand the number of high court justices.
The organization is partnering with ‘Demand Justice,’ another progressive group founded last year to try and counter GOP efforts to put more conservatives into federal courts.
‘Demand Justice’ director Brian Fallon – who served as press secretary for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign - highlighted that “we strongly believe that reforming the Court — especially by expanding it — is the cornerstone for re-building American democracy."
But Republicans say advocating to expand the number of Supreme Court justices will make 2020 Democratic contenders appear more extreme to voters come the general election.
"Democrats are setting themselves up for failure in the general election by agreeing to every single progressive policy touted by the activist left including the Green New Deal, taxes on the wealthy, Medicare for All, and now packing the Supreme Court,” argued Sarah Dolan, executive director of the pro-GOP opposition research group ‘America Rising.’
The Judiciary Act of 1869 established the current number of nine justices for the Supreme Court. A push by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1937 to increase the number of justices failed.