By Adam Shaw
Published March 19, 2019
President Trump on Tuesday brushed off increasing calls from Democratic presidential candidates to pack the Supreme Court with more judges, accusing them of trying to “catch up” after losing at the ballot box.
“We would have no interest in that whatsoever, it will never happen,” he said at a press conference alongside Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. “It won’t happen, I guarantee, it won’t happen for six years.”
Several Democrats, including former Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., have signaled their openness to expanding the number of judges on the court if they enter the White House.
"First they steal a Supreme Court seat, and then they turn around and change the rules on the filibuster on a Supreme Court seat," said Warren in a recent radio interview. "So when it swings back to us what are we going to do? I think all the options are on the table."
O’Rourke has floated the idea of having as many as 15 judges on the bench.
“What if there were five justices selected by Democrats, five justices selected by Republicans, and those ten then picked five more justices independent of those who chose the first ten?” he said.
“I think that’s an idea we should explore.”
Trump, however, disagreed, and put it down to Democrats’ anger at losing the 2016 election.
“I wouldn’t entertain that. The only reason that they’re doing that is they want to try and catch up, so if they can’t catch up through the ballot box by winning an election, they want to try doing it in a different way," he said.
Since being elected, Trump has appointed two Supreme Court justices, shifting the court solidly to the right. Currently, the two oldest justices are both on the liberal wing of the court -- Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. Any retirements in the near future could give Trump an opening to shape an even more conservative court.
Trump’s opposition is shared by many Republicans. On Tuesday, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said he intends to file a bill to prevent “this court packing scheme.”
In the press conference, Trump also hailed the U.S.-Brazilian relationship since the ascension of the nationalist Bolsonaro to the presidency.
Trump praised Bolsonaro repeatedly and pledged cooperation between the two countries on issues such as possible NATO membership for Brazil, and also the handling of the crisis in Venezuela -- where he said “all options are open.”
Bolsonaro returned the kind words, telling reporters that he believed Trump will win re-election in 2020.
“We will respect whatever the ballots tell us on 2020 but I do believe Donald Trump is going to be re-elected fully,” he said.
“Thank you, I agree,” Trump responded.
Fox News’ Bill Mears and Liam Quinn contributed to this report.