Delaware Sen. Chris Coons told CNN that he would be open to expanding the Supreme Court if Republicans confirm nominee Amy Coney Barrett before the election.
Coons is a key moderate on the Senate Judiciary Committee and a close ally of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
“Like Joe Biden, I’m not a fan of expanding the court, but we have a few weeks here to see whether there are four Republicans who will step back from this precipice,” Coons told CNN.
“It is the Republican majority that’s responsible for racing forward with this extreme, unqualified nominee — unqualified because of her extreme judicial philosophy,” he said.
“If we happen to be in the fact pattern where we have a President Biden who will have to look at what the right steps are to rebalance our federal judiciary,” he added.
Coons vows to vote against Barrett:
Coons penned a Fox News op-ed explaining his decision to oppose Barrett’s nomination.
“Rushing to confirm Judge Barrett’s nomination for a lifetime appointment on our nation’s highest court directly violates the precedent that my Republican colleagues set themselves in 2016: that we should not confirm a Supreme Court justice during an election year,” he wrote.
He wrote that he believes Barrett has a “radical judicial approach, even more conservative than Justice Scalia.”
“With the confirmation of a Justice Barrett, a Supreme Court with a 6-3 conservative majority would be like nothing we have seen in many decades. It would, I fear, usher in a new chapter of conservative judicial activism that would disrupt rights that we hold dear across so many aspects of our lives,” he added. “I worry that the consequences of the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court would be devastating for the American people and for our nation for many years to come.”
Some top Democrats oppose:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, has opposed scrapping the filibuster to expand the court.
“I think the filibuster serves a purpose. ... I think it's part of the Senate that differentiates itself,” she said last month.
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, Maine Sen. Angus King, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin have signaled their opposition as well.
Democratic Senate candidates like Mark Kelly in Arizona and Jaime Harrison in South Carolina have also come out against the move.
Biden said he would state his position after the vote on Barrett’s confirmation.
“It depends on how much they rush this,” he said.