Gillibrand: Packing Supreme Court Is 'Interesting Idea'

January 23, 2019

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) referred to packing the Supreme Court as an "interesting idea" on Tuesday during an interview with "Pod Save America."

Gillibrand appeared on the popular left-wing podcast to discuss her recently launched 2020 presidential campaign, and former Barack Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau told her the next Democratic president "needs to consider reforming the Supreme Court, potentially adding seats, potentially instituting term limits."

"What do you think of those ideas? Either of those appealing to you?" he asked.

"Well, they're interesting ideas that I would need to think more about," she said. "But I do think what President Trump has done with the judiciary is shocking and is so destructive."

Some liberals who are angry with the present tilt of the court—five conservatives and four liberals—have thrown around the idea of appointing enough left-leaning justices to shift the balance back in their favor when in power. There is no stipulation in the Constitution that the Supreme Court have only nine justices. Firebrand attorney Michael Avenatti, who toyed around with running for president last year before deciding against it, said supporting such a measure should be a litmus test for Democrats.

Gillibrand, who like most Democrats voted against Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch when they were nominated to the Supreme Court, said they were both "disqualified in my mind" because of their records and statements. Gillibrand particularly led the charge against Kavanaugh, declaring he was guilty of the sexual assault charge made against him as a teenager by Christine Blasey Ford.

On Tuesday, she cited both justices' support for principles upheld in the Citizens United v. FEC decision as reason for her opposition.

"I think we need to get money out of politics," Gillibrand said, adding that the "special interests" in Washington didn't need more power.

"We need to restore our direct democracy. We need to actually put the power of this country back in the hands of the people, and so you need to undermine those special interests," she said.

It is unclear what Gillibrand meant by restoring the country's "direct democracy," which suggests laws being decided by popular vote of the people. The United States is a representative democracy.