If Barrett is confirmed, we’re for packing the court

Restoring the court’s balance would validate its integrity

WHY ARE REPUBLICANS so desperate to ram through a Supreme Court nomination that will impact Americans’ lives for decades?

They’re scared that come November 3 they will lose. That despite their attempts to subvert democracy through false attacks on mail-in voting, felony disenfranchisement of 5.2 million people, and reduction of available voting locations, Americans will reject their unpopular policies and hateful rhetoric.

President Trump and his far-right allies have taken extremism to a level this country has never experienced. We are more polarized than ever before. Instead of taking steps toward bringing us together, Trump and his allies are digging in and driving us further apart. Senate Republicans seem motivated to quickly jam through the illegitimate nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, but when millions of workers and families remain unemployed or can’t make rent because of the pandemic, action to provide them relief is nowhere to be found.

And so Republicans, having already packed the federal judiciary at all levels with right-wing judges, are now attempting to pack the Supreme Court with a right-wing majority that will outlast their viability at the ballot box. They want to steal your input on who will issue rulings on affordable healthcare, LGBTQ rights, reproductive rights, environmental protections, and more.

It’s clear where Judge  Barrett stands on these issues. Her record and statements indicate she would vote to deport Dreamers, to strip LGBTQ couples of their ability to marry, to deny Americans with pre-existing conditions accessible healthcare, to deprive people of the right to make decisions about their own bodies, and to dismantle protections for vulnerable environmental justice communities like East Boston.

But our fight to stop President Trump’s nomination isn’t just about how a Justice Barrett would harm Americans’ life, liberty, and happiness. It’s about a process that should prioritize democratic norms over political expediency and that respects people’s preferences rather than attempting to undermine them.

In 2016, Sen. Mitch McConnell stalled President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, claiming that an upcoming election meant “the American people should seize the opportunity to weigh in on whom they trust to nominate the next person for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.” Republicans’ hypocrisy is proof that we must do more to protect the Supreme Court from partisan aims. Expanding the court and abolishing the filibuster will strengthen our judiciary, not weaken it.

McConnell is ignoring the precedent that he set. Instead, he now argues that Republican control of the Senate and White House implies a mandate to fill the empty seat.

What better reflects Americans’ preferences: the way they voted in the past or the way they’re voting in the present, right now? The majority of Americans believe the winner of the 2020 election should be the one to appoint the next Supreme Court justice.

The only reason for Republicans to rush an appointment is an expectation that they will not be able to once Americans make their voices heard. And given that votes have begun to be cast and counted, this suggests Republicans know they have already lost the mandate they outwardly claim to have.

We promise to fight for the people of Massachusetts. We will continue fighting against injustices in Boston and across our Commonwealth. We will fight to stop Judge Barrett’s immoral nomination. But if Republicans succeed in packing the court with Judge Barrett, Democrats shouldn’t rest until we abolish the filibuster and add justices to the Supreme Court to re-establish majority rule.

Adding justices is a corrective action Republicans will force Democrats to take should they violate established norms and pursue their own party’s political interests at the expense of democracy. Crocodile tears that expanding the court is anti-democratic are simply attempts to deflect attention from the egregious attempts to skirt due process and forsake justice in Barrett’s nomination.

Restoring balance to a court that has been manipulated through the hypocrisy of McConnell and the Republican Party would validate its integrity. Stopping Republican efforts to circumvent democracy would create a court that safeguards the rights of the people on whose behalf it interprets the law.

Republicans can still respect the American people. They can honor Justice Ruth Ginsburg’s dying wish that she “will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” But if Republicans abrogate their civic duty through this sham process, we cannot and will not stand by.

Meet the Author

Edward Markey

US Senator, State of Massachusetts
Meet the Author

Lydia Edwards

City councilor , City of Boston
Edward Markey is the junior US senator for Massachusetts and Lydia Edwards is a Boston city councilor representing District 1.

Markey’s opponent, Republican Kevin O’Connor, adopted a different stance on court packing in an earlier op-ed.