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Tipsheet

McConnell Says It Should've Been 'Easy' for SCOTUS Nominee to Answer Whether She Supports Court-Packing

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Sunday it should have been an "easy thing" for President Joe Biden's Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to tell him if she would "defend the integrity of the court" by opposing court-packing but that she refused to do so.

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During an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation," McConnell explained to host Margaret Brennan that he had a "very good conversation" with Jackson in his office earlier this month but was concerned that she would not disclose what her position is on the expansion of the Supreme Court.

"I asked her to defend the court," he said. "Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Breyer both publicly opposed court-packing, that is trying to increase the number of court members in order to get an outcome you like. That would have been an easy thing for her to do to defend the integrity of the court. She wouldn't do that."

"So in the meantime, the committee will ask her all the tough questions. I haven't made a final decision as to how I'm going to vote," McConnell continued.

When asked by Brennan to clarify if he could be persuaded to vote for Jackson's confirmation to the bench, McConnell said he is "going to listen to the hearings."

He also noted that Jackson will receive better treatment from Republicans during her confirmation hearings than Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh received from Democrats.

"And by the way, she'll be treated much better than Democrats are typically treating Republican nominees like Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh," McConnell said. "It'll be a respectful, deep dive into her record, which I think is entirely appropriate for a lifetime appointment."

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The senator said he is "willing to listen to the testimony," adding, "That's why we have hearings."

After McConnell met with Jackson earlier this month, he said in a statement they had a "cordial discussion" but expressed reservations about her because some "fringe groups" who back court-packing also supported her nomination to the Supreme Court.

"Now, Justice Breyer has distinguished himself by loudly and proudly putting these radicals in their place. He has consistently denounced the concept of partisan court-packing and defended the Court’s legitimacy," McConnell wrote. "One would hope his successor would follow suit. But curiously, the same radicals who want to turn Democrats into the party of court-packing also badly wanted Judge Jackson for this vacancy. It's a matter of record that this nominee was the anointed favorite of these fringe groups. At this time last year they were already spending dark money to raise her profile."

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He added that he intends to explore "why groups that are waging political war against the Court as an institution decided Judge Jackson was their special favorite."

One liberal group backing Jackson's nomination is Demand Justice, which has vocally supported an expanded Supreme Court over the last couple of years. And liberal pundit Elie Mystal, one of the group's board members, tweeted in September 2020 that a "40 member SCOTUS doesn't bother me." 

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