Holder, who announced earlier this week that he won’t run for president in 2020 -- despite months of speculation and frequent trips to early primary states -- spoke at Yale Law School on Thursday.
He told the crowd that if he was president, he would “seriously consider adding two seats to the Supreme Court to make up for [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell‘s power-grabbing antics.”
Democrats should "seriously consider adding two seats to the Supreme Court to make up for Mitch McConnell‘s power-grabbing antics."
Holder’s comments came after being quizzed on how Democrats could translate their Trump-era aggressiveness into actual policies.
Historically, some presidents have floated the idea of expanding the nation's highest court, with Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt once attempting to add six additional seats. But FDR's plan was shot down by conservative members of his own party.
One questioner at Yale asked about Holder’s rebuke of Michelle Obama’s famous saying about “going high” and asked what the Democratic Party should do if Republicans lose the White House, Law&Crime reported.
A spokesperson for Holder confirmed the comments to the outlet, issuing a statement slamming Senate Republicans for disregarding “historical precedent” when it came to nominations to the high court.
“In response to a question, former Attorney General Holder said that given the unfairness, unprecedented obstruction, and disregard of historical precedent by Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans, when Democrats retake the majority they should consider expanding the Supreme Court to restore adherence to previously accepted norms for judicial nominations,” Patrick Rodenbush said. “He views this as a corrective.”
"When Democrats retake the majority they should consider expanding the Supreme Court to restore adherence to previously accepted norms for judicial nominations."
Holder grabbed headlines last year after rejecting Obama’s call for respect and instead urged Democrats to forget civility.
“It is time for us, as Democrats, to be as tough as they are, to be as dedicated as they are, to be as committed as they are,” Holder said. “Michelle always says -- I love her; she and my wife are like, really tight, which always scares me and Barack -- but Michelle always says, 'When they go low, we go high.' No. When they go low, we kick 'em.”
Holder’s comments mark the first time a high-profile Democrat endorsed the idea of expanding the Supreme Court, a move that even progressive 2020 candidates remain skittish about.
A progressive group named “Pack the Courts” has been at the forefront of driving the conversation about the high court expansion, but so far only two 2020 candidates have come out as open to the idea.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said in January during a podcast that expanding the court or imposing term limits were “interesting ideas.”
South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who’s also running for president, said people shouldn’t dismiss the idea, adding that “it’s no more a shattering of norms than what’s already been done to get the judiciary to where it is today.”
The progressive group, meanwhile, celebrated Holder’s statements and urged presidential candidates to “explain how they will restore democracy over the objections of a hostile and partisan Court” in order to be “taken seriously.”
“The Supreme Court dismantled the Voting Rights Act, allowed a flood of dark money to corrupt our politics, and permitted hyper-partisan gerrymandering to rig the system against voters,” the group said in a statement.
“Because the Court has undermined the institutions of democracy, court packing is the only way to restore the integrity of the political system. Attorney General Holder’s positive remarks about court packing today underscore the importance of judicial reform as the 2020 campaign kicks into high gear. To be taken seriously, presidential candidates must explain how they will restore democracy over the objections of a hostile and partisan Court.”
Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.