Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Progressives Pledge to Keep Pushing Biden to Expand Court
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 4 years ago on
September 24, 2020

Share

WASHINGTON — Since Joe Biden ran away with the Democratic presidential nomination in March, leading progressives have accepted him — sometimes grudgingly — as their party’s leader. But, in the final weeks of the campaign, the Supreme Court vacancy is threatening to inflame old divides.

Some leading activists on the left are pressing Biden to endorse expanding the number of high court justices should he win the White House and Democrats take control of the Senate. But Biden, who ran a relatively centrist primary campaign, hasn’t embraced those calls, worried they may intensify the nation’s partisan split.

“The majority of Berniecrats will most likely vote for Vice President Joe Biden. That doesn’t mean that they are not going to raise hell all the way.” — Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator and top adviser to progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns

There’s little indication that large swaths of progressives will abandon Biden or back third-party candidates, moves that wounded Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 2016 bid. But activists insist they will keep pressure on Biden to pursue dramatic reforms to the Supreme Court if Republicans move forward with a plan to quickly approve President Donald Trump’s pick to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“The majority of Berniecrats will most likely vote for Vice President Joe Biden,” said Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator and top adviser to progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns. “That doesn’t mean that they are not going to raise hell all the way.”

“Biden should make it clear that he will fight back by expanding the court if he wins,” said Turner, who is founding a firm to advance progressive causes, Amare Public Affairs.

The Constitution doesn’t mandate the number of Supreme Court justices, which has changed over time. In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt promoted legislation to “pack the court” by expanding its number of justices, an effort that stalled once the justices began to rule in his favor on policies tied to the New Deal.

‘The Politics of This Are Moving Very, Very Fast’

Since then, the makeup of the court hasn’t been a prominent issue in national politics. That began to change after Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s contentious 2018 nomination fight. Calls to add more seats to the court grew much louder this week in response to the GOP’s rush to fill Ginsburg’s seat before the election, which would leave the court with six conservatives and three liberals.

“The politics of this are moving very, very fast,” said Aaron Belkin, director of Take Back the Court, which advocates for increasing the number of justices. “And under a Biden administration, when the court has the administration handcuffed on Day One, I think the politics are going to be changing even more quickly.”

That puts Biden in a tough spot. As someone who spent 36 years in the Senate, he built a career revering Washington’s institutions. During the 2020 primary, he pointedly declined to join rivals such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren or California Sen. Kamala Harris, who is now his running mate, in being open to court expansion.

During his first extended comments Sunday about Ginsburg’s death, Biden appealed to the few remaining moderate Senate Republicans to buck their party’s leadership, rather than to progressives looking for him to support larger court.

Since then, Biden has largely sought to avoid the issue as he’s campaigned in battleground states, preferring instead to focus on Trump’s handling of the pandemic and high unemployment.

He ducked a question about changes to the court during a Monday interview with a Wisconsin television station, saying a response would “shift all the focus.”

As he headed to North Carolina on Wednesday, Biden said Democrats should concentrate on making the case to voters about why the GOP push to quickly fill Ginsburg’s seat is a “gigantic mistake and abuse of power.”

Some leading progressives said Ginsburg’s death underscored the stakes of the election and their support for Biden.

Ocasio-Cortez Also Spent Months Expressing Skepticism Toward Biden

“I understand why people say, ‘I don’t vote. What’s the point?’ I really empathize with it. Voting for Joe Biden is not about whether you agree with him. It’s a vote to let our democracy live another day.” — New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

“I understand why people say, ‘I don’t vote. What’s the point?’ I really empathize with it,” New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Instagram last week. “Voting for Joe Biden is not about whether you agree with him. It’s a vote to let our democracy live another day.”

Ocasio-Cortez also spent months expressing skepticism toward Biden but also was co-leader of a task force on climate change that top Biden supporters and advisers formed with their counterparts from Sanders’ unsuccessful presidential campaign to try to better reach consensus on top issues. Those groups made policy recommendations that helped shape the Democratic Party platform, which was adopted at its national convention last month and was meant to avoid the ideological clashes that Clinton endured four years ago.

Sanders, who opposes Supreme Court expansion, and Warren, who has suggested she’d be willing to support it, have also used Ginsburg’s death as a rallying cry.

“Democracy as we know it is in danger,” Warren said at a virtual event with Virginia leaders, calling Republican court efforts “the last gasp of a desperate party that is overrepresented in the hall of power.”

Sanders is delivering a speech Thursday in Washington spelling out what he sees as the major threat Trump poses to American democracy.

Just getting Biden elected might not be enough for everyone, though. Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, called the coming Senate nomination fight Biden’s chance to offer a “first big show of force as leader of the Democratic Party.”

“He can quickly unify Democrats in saying no confirmation until after inauguration,” Green said. “And promising to expand the court if Republicans do an end run around democracy.”

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Longtime Southern Baptist Leader Paul Pressler, Accused of Sexual Abuse, Dies at 94

DON'T MISS

California’s Democratic Leaders Clash With Businesses Over Curbing Retail Theft. Here’s What to Know

DON'T MISS

2 Killed When Vintage Plane Crashes During Father’s Day Event at Southern California Airfield

DON'T MISS

California Firefighters Gain Ground Against Big Wildfires After Hot, Windy Weekend

DON'T MISS

‘The Outsiders’ Wins Best Musical and ‘Stereophonic’ Best Play as Women Make Strides at Tony Awards

DON'T MISS

This Is How Clovis East Alum Bryson DeChambeau Won His 2nd US Open, Denying Rory McIlroy

DON'T MISS

Biden’s Campaign Announces a $50 Million Advertising Blitz Highlighting Trump’s Conviction

DON'T MISS

Surgeon General Asks Congress to Require Warning Labels for Social Media, Like Those on Cigarettes

DON'T MISS

What Have We Liberals Done to the West Coast?

DON'T MISS

Caitlin Clark Overcomes Another Physical Game, Scores 23 to Lead Fever Past Sky

UP NEXT

Biden’s Campaign Announces a $50 Million Advertising Blitz Highlighting Trump’s Conviction

UP NEXT

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore to Issue Over 175,000 Marijuana Pardons

UP NEXT

Squaw Valley Man Allegedly Killed by Lifelong Friend

UP NEXT

Tyson Foods Heir Suspended as CFO After Second Alcohol-Related Arrest

UP NEXT

Trump Returns to Capitol Hill and Whips Up Republican Lawmakers, a First Meeting Since Jan. 6 Attack

UP NEXT

Supreme Court, Siding With Starbucks, Makes It Harder for NLRB to Win Court Orders in Labor Disputes

UP NEXT

US Reporter Evan Gershkovich, Jailed in Russia on Espionage Charges, to Stand Trial, Officials Say

UP NEXT

Supreme Court Rules California Man Can’t Trademark ‘Trump Too Small’

UP NEXT

Drunk Driver Gets 15 Years to Life for Deadly Fresno Taco Truck Crash

UP NEXT

Rep. Costa Blasts GOP House For Holding AG Merrick Garland in Contempt

California Firefighters Gain Ground Against Big Wildfires After Hot, Windy Weekend

30 mins ago

‘The Outsiders’ Wins Best Musical and ‘Stereophonic’ Best Play as Women Make Strides at Tony Awards

39 mins ago

This Is How Clovis East Alum Bryson DeChambeau Won His 2nd US Open, Denying Rory McIlroy

43 mins ago

Biden’s Campaign Announces a $50 Million Advertising Blitz Highlighting Trump’s Conviction

50 mins ago

Surgeon General Asks Congress to Require Warning Labels for Social Media, Like Those on Cigarettes

59 mins ago

What Have We Liberals Done to the West Coast?

2 hours ago

Caitlin Clark Overcomes Another Physical Game, Scores 23 to Lead Fever Past Sky

2 hours ago

Giants Drop Angels as Soler’s 3-Run HR Keys a 9-Run Inning

2 hours ago

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore to Issue Over 175,000 Marijuana Pardons

2 hours ago

Ohtani Has Second Two-Homer Game of Season, Betts Breaks Hand as Dodgers Beat Royals

2 hours ago

Longtime Southern Baptist Leader Paul Pressler, Accused of Sexual Abuse, Dies at 94

HOUSTON — Paul Pressler, a leading figure of the Southern Baptist Convention who was accused of sexually abusing boys and young men and late...

6 mins ago

6 mins ago

Longtime Southern Baptist Leader Paul Pressler, Accused of Sexual Abuse, Dies at 94

12 mins ago

California’s Democratic Leaders Clash With Businesses Over Curbing Retail Theft. Here’s What to Know

20 mins ago

2 Killed When Vintage Plane Crashes During Father’s Day Event at Southern California Airfield

30 mins ago

California Firefighters Gain Ground Against Big Wildfires After Hot, Windy Weekend

39 mins ago

‘The Outsiders’ Wins Best Musical and ‘Stereophonic’ Best Play as Women Make Strides at Tony Awards

43 mins ago

This Is How Clovis East Alum Bryson DeChambeau Won His 2nd US Open, Denying Rory McIlroy

50 mins ago

Biden’s Campaign Announces a $50 Million Advertising Blitz Highlighting Trump’s Conviction

59 mins ago

Surgeon General Asks Congress to Require Warning Labels for Social Media, Like Those on Cigarettes

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend