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Previous story Liberal groups back plan to expand Supreme Court Next story
Published on September 21, 2020 1:42 AM


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A group of progressive organizations is for the first time supporting the proposal to add justices to the court in hopes of weakening the conservative majority, according to a memo provided to POLITICO. The move comes weeks before the Supreme Court is expected to hand down opinions on several hotly contested issues, including President Donald Trump?s tax returns, abortion rights and the fate of ?Dreamers.?


The Progressive Change Institute, Be a Hero, Friends of the Earth, Presente and 350 are among those groups that are newly joining the call, according to organizers. Take Back the Court, Demand Justice and the Sunrise Movement, which previously backed the idea, also signed onto the open letter.


?Trump and the Republicans in Congress have used aggressive tactics, including eliminating the filibuster, to pack the courts with conservative ideologues and prevent the will of the people from being heard,? said Erich Pica, president of the environmental group Friends of the Earth. ?From the fight for racial justice to efforts to stop climate change and protect our clean air and water, the current configuration of the court has consistently stood in the way of progress. We simply do not have a generation?s worth of time to replace judges.?

The once-fringe idea of packing the court got a major boost during the Democratic presidential primary, when several candidates said they were open to the plan or supported it. Democrats have argued the hardball tactic is needed after Republicans blocked former President Barack Obama?s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland and others on the lower courts.

In the memo, the progressive organizations accused Republicans of themselves ?manipulating the size of the court by refusing to consider President Obama?s nominee for an open seat (and indicating that they would leave the seat open if Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election), then promptly changing Senate rules to fill the seat with a bare majority, rather than the previously-required 60 votes, when Trump took office.?

Activists said they put together the letter in part to help Democratic voters channel their anger over conservative opinions they are expecting in the coming days. Along with adding at least two justices, the groups also recommend term limits for the Supreme Court.

Despite their recent successes, progressives are still fighting an uphill battle on the idea of packing the court. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden does not support it. At a debate last year, he said, ?I would not get into court packing. We had three justices. Next time around, we lose control, they add three justices. We begin to lose any credibility the court has at all.?

In their letter, the progressive organizations argued the current court is an ?affront to democracy: 15 of the last 19 Supreme Court justices were nominated by Republicans, despite the fact that Republicans have lost the ...