In wake of Barrett confirmation, NY lawmakers back court reform

Expanding the Supreme Court is increasingly mainstream, but some Democrats are hesitant.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court on Monday.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court on Monday. Shutterstock

The Senate confirmed Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court on Monday evening, resulting in a resounding call from Democrats across the country to reform the court system.

Barrett, who was quickly nominated for the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September, has been criticized by Democrats for her conservative views and the threat she poses to reproductive rights and the Affordable Care Act. Democrats have also complained about the hypocrisy of the GOP blocking former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland during the last year of his term while confirming Barrett even closer to an election. While Barrett said that if confirmed she would remain an independent thinker, few believe that the former clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia wouldn’t side with Republicans and conservative activists on controversial cases, including potentially overturning the landmark abortion rights ruling Roe v Wade. 

Shortly after her confirmation, some of New York’s major political players, such as Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, slammed the Republican Senate and called to “expand the court.” Here is what congressional leaders from New York have said about Barrett and the future of the Supreme Court:

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer

Following the announcement that Barrett had been confirmed by the Senate, Schumer condemned the decision and stated that if the Senate has a Democratic majority again, it will operate on its own accord. 

“You may win this vote, and Amy Coney Barrett may become the next associate justice of the Supreme Court,” Schumer said. “But you will never, never get your credibility back. And the next time the American people give Democrats a majority in this chamber, you will have forfeited the right to tell us how to run that majority.”

The senator also fired off a string of tweets on Monday evening, which highlighted what Barrett’s nomination could potentially threaten.

In September, following Ginsburg’s death, Schumer told congressional Democrats that "nothing is off the table next year" if the Republican-dominated Senate attempted to fill the late justice’s seat. However, it’s unclear what that could mean for the court or the Senate Democrats agenda in the coming year. Even if Schumer personally favors court expansion, he may not have enough votes to pass it. 

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

Gillibrand similarly fired off a round of tweets on Monday night, slamming Senate Republicans for pushing forward with Barrett’s confirmation to “further their extreme, conservative agenda.”

The senator also encouraged her followers to donate to help support efforts to flip the Senate. 

Rep. Jerry Nadler

While the House Judiciary Committee chairman hasn’t made any new announcements or calls to action since Barrett’s confirmation, Nadler has made his feelings about replacing Ginsburg well known. In September, Nadler said that Congress should expand the Supreme Court, referred to by opponents as “packing the court,” should President Donald Trump replace Ginsburg before leaving office, to balance out the conservative tilt created by Republicans stopping Obama from appointing a justice during his last year in office but then approving Trump’s nominee just days before the presidential election.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney

Maloney, who is the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, condemned Barrett’s confirmation shortly after it was announced in a scathing press release. “Not only do I stand against her confirmation in principle, but also because of her blatant views against the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, women, Black people, and workers,” Maloney said.

The Congress member also took aim at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel and how he has placed “political hackery ahead of serving the American people” and that the Senate’s efforts could have provided Americans with a “COVID relief package” instead. 

Maloney also made a call to action, saying that lawmakers should focus their attention on “ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, and constitutionally prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex,” now that Barrett has been confirmed.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries

The fifth-ranking member of the House Democratic leadership took aim at Senate Republicans’ decision to focus all of their energy into confirming Barrett, rather than ensuring that COVID-19 relief is provided to struggling individuals. Jeffries also raised concerns over the future of the U.S. healthcare system during the ongoing pandemic. “As the president just enthusiastically confirmed, their goal is to overturn the Affordable Care Act and rip away health care for millions of Americans while we are in the middle of a public health crisis,” Jeffries said.

Jeffries also tweeted on Monday morning that Senate Republicans must be “held accountable” for trying to “steal another Supreme Court seat.”

Interestingly, unlike many of his fellow Democrats, Jeffries appears uninterested in expanding the number of seats on the Supreme Court and has previously stated that it’s not a part of Congress’ present agenda. “Stop asking Dems about packing the Court,” Jeffries tweeted on Oct. 11. “We aren’t doing it. They are. In order to take away our healthcare.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

“Expand the court,” tweeted one of New York’s most outspoken Congress members on Monday. The progressive icon then followed up by saying that most Republican’s don’t believe that Democrats have “the stones to play hardball like they do” and stated that there is a “legal process for expansion.”