Sen. Sasse Calls Out Dems for Trying to Muddy Definition of Court Packing

Sen. Ben Sasse on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., September 27, 2018 (Andrew Harnik/Reuters)

Senator Ben Sasse on Monday called out Democrats for attempting to expand the definition of court packing as the debate over adding justices to the Supreme Court continues, saying that packing the court refers to adding more seats to the court, not “filling legitimate vacancies”

“Anybody who uses the language that implies filling legitimate vacancies is actually just another form of court packing, that’s playing the American people for fools,” Sasse said during the first day of confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

“Court-packing is not judicial reform,” the Nebraska Republican said. “Court-packing is destroying the system we have now.”

Over the weekend, Democratic lawmakers accused their political opponents of hypocrisy, saying Republicans have been “packing the court” for years and that Barrett’s nomination “constitutes court-packing.”

“It’s rushed, it constitutes court packing, and her views are too extreme to qualify her to serve on this court,” Senator Chris Coons (D., Del.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, said Sunday.

Sasse also took a veiled shot at Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who has repeatedly declined in recent weeks to reveal his position on adding justices to the Supreme Court.

“When politicians refuse to give answers to the pretty basic question of whether or not they want to try to change the number of justices in the court, which is what court-packing actually is … that is a bad idea that politicizes the judiciary and reduces public trust,” Sasse said.

Packing the court would be a “partisan suicide-bombing” that would signal the end of the judiciary branch having any semblance of being apolitical, the senator added.

Along with other Republican senators including Senator Josh Hawley, Sasse also criticized Democrats for making Barrett’s Catholic faith an issue in her confirmation fight, noting that the U.S. does not have “religious tests” for nominees.

“This committee isn’t in the business of deciding whether the dogma lives too loudly within someone,” Sasse said, referencing remarks made by the committee’s ranking Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein during Barrett’s Court of Appeals confirmation hearing in 2017.

“And I just want to say, as somebody who is self-consciously a Christian, we’ve got a whole bunch more really weird beliefs. Forgiveness of sins, the virgin birth, resurrection from the dead, eternal life, there are a whole bunch of really, really crazy ideas that are a lot weirder than some Catholic moms giving each other advice about parenting,” Sasse continued.

The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold hearings on Barrett’s confirmation through Thursday.

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