Trump: Democrats Only Want to Expand Supreme Court to 'Catch Up'

March 19, 2019

President Donald Trump told reporters during a Tuesday press conference that Democrats who are campaigning on the promise to expand the Supreme Court only want to "catch up" with his conservative appointments.

"I wouldn’t entertain that," Trump said. "The only reason they’re doing that is they want to try to catch up, so if they can’t catch up through the ballot box by winning an election they want to try doing it in a different way."

The president said he has no interest in expanding the court "whatsoever."

"It’ll never happen," he said. "I guarantee it won’t happen for six years."

Trump campaigned in 2016 on the promise that he would appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court, resulting in the appointment and subsequent confirmation of Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

Several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have campaigned on the promise of expanding the court. Under one proposed plan, the court would be expanded from nine to 15 justices: Democrats in the Senate would choose five, Republicans would choose five, and together those 10 justices would pick another five, in a vote independent of the people who picked them.

During his 2020 candidacy announcement speech in Iowa last Thursday, Democrat Robert O'Rourke told his audience he believed it was an idea "we should explore."

"We're a country of 320 million people. There's got to be the talent and the wisdom and the perspective," the former Texas congressman said. "And that court should be able to reflect the diversity that we are composed of in this country."

Democratic 2020 hopeful Pete Buttigieg, the Democratic mayor of South Bend, Indiana, also endorsed the idea during a speech at Saint Anselm's College.

"It takes the politics out of it a little bit, because we can’t go on like this, where every time there’s a vacancy there’s these games being played and then an apocalyptic ideological battle over who the appointee is going to be," Buttigieg said. "If we want to save that institution, I think we better be ready to tune it up as well."

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) announced in a tweet on Tuesday that he will introduce legislation for a constitutional amendment to keep the Supreme Court at nine justices.

"We must prevent further destabilization of essential institutions," he wrote. "Court packing is quickly becoming a litmus test for 2020 Democratic candidates."