The Hill reported Friday that prominent Democrats are warning presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden against releasing a list of his potential nominees to the Supreme Court, as President Donald Trump did during his campaign in 2016.
High-ranking Senate Judiciary Committee member Dick Durbin (D-IL) pointed out that Trump’s choice to release such a list was highly irregular, and told The Hill he hoped Biden would not follow suit.
“We ought to go back to the regular order of things. If and when vacancies occur he can look for the very best person at that moment,” Sen. Durbin said, alleging that Trump’s list was aimed at letting the Federalist Society know Trump would pre-clear nominees with the organization, according to The Hill.
Dems gear up for November
Democrats plan to make a big issue of Republican court appointments in the lead-up to November’s election in an attempt to scare less conservative voters who might worry that the courts would no longer reflect their views if Trump were re-elected.
A coalition of left-wing groups including Demand Justice and Take Back the Court backed an open letter last week aimed at reversing the trend of more conservatives in the courts, Politico noted. Among their chief proposals is to expand the Supreme Court to 15 justices in order to dilute the conservative influence that has settled there after two Trump appointments during his first term.
Such a move would be the “fastest, most effective way to reverse the Republican theft of the Supreme Court,” the letter said. The groups also advocated other measures like term limits instead of lifetime appointments, according to Politico.
Biden, for his part, has already expressed concern that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) might “pressure” older judges to retire before the end of the year so that Trump could appoint younger conservatives, The Hill reported. He has urged Democrats to “block” nominations during the election year, even though it is impossible for them to do so under current Senate rules.
Two of the Supreme Court’s nine justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, are currently in their 80s, according to The Hill; two more, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, are in their 70s.
Looking to the high court
The former vice president said earlier that also he doesn’t support adding judges to the Supreme Court, noting that Republicans could just add even more judges when they take over power in the future, as Fox News reported. Such actions could damage the high court’s credibility, Biden said.
As to who he might nominate, Biden has vowed to appoint a black woman as a Supreme Court justice if he gets the opportunity, but has not named any names to date, The Hill reported. No women of color have ever sat on the high court.
Though Democrats are pushing against it, Christopher Kang of Demand Justice urged Biden in an interview with The Hill to name names so that groups can “get a more concrete sense” of “what the values are that he hopes those people might bring to the Supreme Court.” But either way, the Senate’s top Democrat, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY), says he has “a lot of faith in Joe Biden.”
“I’ve talked to him a little bit about this and I think he understands the gravity of the issue,” Schumer recently told reporters, according to The Hill.