Oct. 27, 2020 By Allie Griffin
Several Queens lawmakers are calling on U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer to expand the Supreme Court after Justice Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in Monday night, cementing a conservative majority for generations to come.
Zohran Mamdani, the Assembly Member Elect for District 36 in Astoria, issued a statement Tuesday calling on the Senate minority leader to add additional justices to the Supreme Court. The statement is signed by more than 20 New York City officials.
Mamdani — who’s poised to take the Astoria Assembly seat — released the statement after Senate Republicans pushed Barrett’s nomination through just days ahead of the presidential election.
“This court is illegitimate, and must not be allowed to wreak misery on millions of Americans in service of a far-right minority and their corporate backers,” he wrote on behalf of himself and the signatories. “Congressional Democrats must end the filibuster and pass legislation to expand the court.”
Democrats have denounced Senate Republicans as hypocritical since they refused to even hold hearings for Judge Merrick Garland, one of former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominees, in February 2016. Republicans had said voters should have an input on who nominates the next justice on Election Day, which was months away at the time.
Mamdani and his progressive co-signers — including Queens officials Assembly Member Ron Kim, Sen. Jessica Ramos, Sen. Michael Gianaris, Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer and Antonio Reynoso as well as Assembly Member Elect for District 31 Khaleel Anderson — said it’s time Democrats adopt the practices of Republicans.
“The pursuit of substantive principles, not conformity with process norms, is what defines Republicans’ posture toward the federal judiciary, and it’s why they now control it…,” they said. “Democrats must start playing the game as they do, and entertain no criticism for doing so.”
The lawmakers urged Sen. Schumer to lead the way in expanding the court. If Democrats take control of the Senate on Election Day, Schumer is likely to become the Senate majority leader and would decide whether or not to move such legislation forward.
The Senate and House would then have to vote to pass the legislation and the president would then have to sign it into law to make “packing the court” legal. Should Joe Biden win, he would be able to appoint additional justices to the Supreme Court and they would be approved by a Democratic Senate.
“We call on Senator Schumer to immediately, publicly support the expansion of the Supreme Court, to commit to bringing such legislation to a vote should Democrats recapture the majority, and to whip support for such legislation within his caucus,” they said in the statement. “Anything less is unacceptable, and we commit to organizing to hold him accountable should he fail to do so.”
They also urged Biden to sign such legislation into law should he win the election.