New York Democrat Mondaire Jones is likely to be elected the first openly gay Black U.S. congressman, and he strongly supports packing the Supreme Court with more justices in order to change its makeup from conservative-leaning to solidly liberal, as the Washington Examiner reports.
“Our democracy is under assault, and the Supreme Court has dealt many of the sharpest blows,” Jones wrote in a Salon op-ed earlier this year. “If Democrats want to do something about that, expanding the court is our only option.”
The piece was written in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to block Wisconsin from extending deadlines for absentee voting in its primary last spring amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to Fox News, that state’s in-person election did not result in a spike of new coronavirus cases as had been feared by some.
Votes in Jones’ own primary race are still being counted, but he currently has the lead and is expected to win over several other candidates in his race for the seat held by retiring Democratic House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey, the Examiner noted, and his success in the general election is all but assured.
While the idea of adding more Supreme Court justices has been much discussed by Democrats frustrated with the recent confirmation of conservative nominees, it won’t be easy for them to change the makeup of the nation’s highest court.
Even if Jones is elected to Congress, Democrats would have to win the presidential election, hold onto a majority in the House, and take over the Senate in order to push through the needed legislation.
The number of Supreme Court justices is not fixed in the Constitution, and a proposed amendment to that document championed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to permanently limit the number of justices to nine is unlikely to garner the support it needs to ultimately be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures in the near future.
After starting out with six justices, more were added as the country’s territory expanded, and more federal district courts were added. Those conditions are not present now, although Democrats are trying to add Washington, D.C. as a 51st state.
Currently, both parties’ presidential candidates are against court-packing, with Biden saying recently that he thinks it’s a “mistake,” according to the Examiner.
Roberts’ troubling shift
Though President Donald Trump has made two appointments to the court during his first term, Chief Justice John Roberts has increasingly sided with his liberal colleagues in multiple recent decisions, including a refusal to overturn the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the striking down of an abortion restriction in Louisiana, in a move that was in direct opposition to one of his prior votes.
Even without court-packing, it’s entirely possible that the court will veer to the left if Joe Biden is elected, since conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito are both rumored to be considering retirement and may not be willing or able to hang on for four or even eight more years to make sure another Republican is elected.