Usually confined to the Senate, the House will be a battleground for SCOTUS in face of “nothing is off the table” threat
The passing of Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RGB) ignited an election year “October surprise in September” that will be cast over this fall’s election for the Presidency, the U.S. Senate and even the U.S. House.
The President, who makes the SCOTUS appointment and the Senate who confirms, but brings up this question:
“But John, what does the House have to do with the SCOTUS?”
Something that hasn’t happened in Congress in over 150 years, but first, what has happened since Friday night.
Mid afternoon on Saturday, Senator Susan Collins (R, ME) tweeted out a statement saying President Trump should make his SCOTUS nomination and the Senate Judiciary Committee should conduct confirmation hearings.
But she also said the following:
“Given the proximity of the presidential election, however, I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election. In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd.”Senator Susan Collins statement, 9/19/20
My reaction in Twitter may help wrap one’s head around Collins’ statement:
OK, Collins leaves herself an out, but if she keeps to her statement, if President Trump loses the November 3 election, and given with all the vote-by-mail ballots that many states give up to 3 weeks to be received (as long as postmarked on or before November 3), whom the winner of the Presidency will be may not be known until mid December, when the presidential electors formally cast their electoral votes in state capitols across the country.
One must remember, Collins is up for reelection this fall and she is in the political fight of her life, facing a strong challenge from the state Speaker of the House Sara Gideon. According to recent polls, Gideon leads Collins by double digits. Collins could very well lose her Senate seat on November 3 at the hands of Maine voters.
The new Senate will be sworn-in as part of the 117th Congress on January 3.
Which brings up a fair question, should Collins lose her reelection bid, and the President also loses, will she have any loyalty to keep her non binding pledge of yesterday from the time both races are called through the final adjournment of the 116th Congress in late December? Will be an interesting holiday season.
“Nothing is off the table…” if Republicans fill SCOTUS seat by year-end
Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer made very clear that if President Trump appoints and the Republican Senate confirms a new SCOTUS associate justice before the next Congress takes over in January, Democrats will retaliate and nothing is off the table.
This includes Congress expanding the size of the SCOTUS from the current composition of a chief justice and 8 associate justices, to at least 12 associate justices to be appointed, under Democrats’ thinking, by a President Biden/Harris and confirmed by a Democrat-controlled Senate.
This would be the Democrats first blatant attempt to “pack the court” since President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried in the late 1930s. Presumably a President Biden/Harris would select four Leftist pro-abortion justices to dilute a possible 6-3 conservative composition once RBG’s replacement is confirmed.
A constitutional amendment is not needed to increase the size of the Supreme Court, only an act of Congress signed by the President.
Only the chief justice is referenced in the Constitution. Associate justices, and the number of them, is set by Congress. The current composition of the SCOTUS was set into law by the Judiciary Act of 1869, over 150 years ago.
The law has not changed, and the attempt by FDR to enlarge the size of the SCOTUS to up to 15 members in the late 1930s did not pass Congress.
Which now brings up the hypothetical question answered above, and means House candidates, including in the 6th and 14th congressional district, need to be clear where they stand on Congress’ ability to expand the SCOTUS.
Given the two straight nights of Twitter tantrums by Congressman Sean Casten, little doubt what Casten would do, and he would enlarge the SCOTUS if President Trump appoints RBG’s replacement and they are confirmed by the Senate.
In the 14th district, two, 2-year old tweets from then-candidate Lauren Underwood now come into play:
While she needs to be questioned, one can only guess, but these two tweets where Congresswoman Underwood will be on new legislation to expand SCOTUS, if she is reelected.
Plus, given neither Casten or Underwood have ever gone against the House Democratic leadership on any votes for final passage in their terms in Congress, their claiming opposition to Democratic leadership is dubious at best, given their record.
Finally, Senator Dick Durbin tweeted the following yesterday:
Remembering the famous words reiterated by President Trump yesterday, elections have consequences, and Illinois voters will play their part in what those consequences will look like after an election year which saw an impeachment trial in the Senate, a global pandemic, economic collapse, riots across the country and now, a SCOTUS nomination/confirmation fight.
Our country and its voters need prayers more than ever.