Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) pressed Sara Gideon, her Democrat opponent in Maine’s U.S. Senate race, on the latest Supreme Court vacancy on Monday, pointing out that Gideon has yet to oppose the idea of packing the Supreme Court with more justices.
Collins said during a Senate debate with Gideon, “I think one of the worst ideas for trying to make the Supreme Court less political is to pack the court,” referring to the unpopular notion of adding Supreme Court seats to the existing nine to address concerns of partisanship.
Some Democrats openly came out in support of court-packing following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — whose vacant seat President Donald Trump has nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill — while others have avoided directly answering on the matter.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said “the incoming Senate should immediately move to expand the Supreme Court” should Barrett be confirmed, progressive Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) said Democrats “must expand the courts,” and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said “everything is on the table.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been less straightforward, skirting the question in an ABC interview by responding, “Well, let’s just win the election.”
While Gideon, Maine’s House speaker since 2016, said during the debate, according to the Bangor Daily News, that she has opposed proposed reforms in response to Trump’s nomination, she did not specify that she was against court-packing.
“What we have to focus on is how we get back to a judiciary that is independent once again,” Gideon said. The Maine lawmaker has also lashed out at Collins for voting for “far-right, anti-choice judicial nominees. … We can’t afford to have Senator Collins in the Senate, continuing to rubber-stamp unqualified, right-wing judges.”
Collins, a four-term senator who has been a national target in the Democrats’ quest to take over the Senate majority, is just one of two, along with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), of the 53 Republican senators to state they will vote against confirming Barrett prior to the November 3 election.
Collins said she supports beginning the process of filling the seat, however.
“President Trump has the constitutional authority to make a nomination to fill the Supreme Court vacancy,” Collins wrote September 19, “and I would have no objection to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s beginning the process of reviewing his nominee’s credentials.”