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‘Infuriating’: Biden Rebuked for Continued Opposition to Supreme Court Expansion

"What does Biden 'agree' with doing?" Mehdi Hasan asked. "What does the leader of this country want to do to stop the increasingly fascistic assault on our democratic institutions and basic rights?"
President Joe Biden speaks at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center on June 3, 2022 in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

By Kenny Stancil / Common Dreams

President Joe Biden was rebuked Saturday for doubling down on his opposition to expanding the U.S. Supreme Court even after its deeply unpopular right-wing majority spent the past week ending the constitutional right to abortion care, weakening gun restrictions, undermining the separation of church and state, and eroding hard-won civil rights, with more attacks on equality and federal regulatory power expected.

“That is something that the president does not agree with,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters when asked about the possibility of court expansion. “That is not something that he wants to do.”

MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan called the president’s lack of urgency “ridiculous,” “infuriating,” and “inexplicable.”

“What does Biden ‘agree’ with doing?” Hasan asked on social media. “What does the leader of this country want to do to stop the increasingly fascistic assault on our democratic institutions and basic rights?”

Hasan and other outraged commentators were responding to a viral tweet suggesting that Biden is opposed not only to court expansion but also to filibuster reform.

While ABC News confirmed that Biden doesn’t support expanding the high court, CNN reporter Mike Valerio deleted his tweet because, as journalist Judd Legum explained, it misrepresented Jean-Pierre’s comments about the president’s position on the filibuster. Although Biden has typically defended the Senate’s 60-vote threshold for advancing most legislation, he has called for carve-outs on voting rights. He may or may not do the same for reproductive freedom, but Jean-Pierre dodged the question.

“I don’t care what President Biden thinks about the filibuster,” said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.). “He is no longer in Congress.”

“This is the messaging and the actual facts,” Lieu continued. “If we elect two more Democratic U.S. Senators and Democrats hold the House, we can pass the bill that codifies Roe v. Wade into law.”

The House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act last year, but it has stalled in the Senate because right-wing Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) have repeatedly refused to back abolishing or suspending the filibuster, thus giving the GOP minority veto power over most legislation.

While Lieu argued that the Senate Democratic Caucus needs just two more members to be able to repeal the filibuster and codify Roe, others made the case that Biden and other party leaders need to do much more, including expanding the Supreme Court, to prevent the Republican Party from continuing to impose a reactionary agenda opposed by the vast majority of Americans.

“Any Democrat not calling for the expansion of the Supreme Court,” journalist Jordan Zakarian said Friday on social media, “is now in favor of the end of abortion rights and the coming attacks on same-sex marriage, contraception, and every other right we have.”

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), as well as Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), are among the lawmakers who have demanded court expansion since Roe was overturned.

Last April, Biden appointed a 36-member bipartisan commission to study potential reforms to the Supreme Court—including the addition of more seats, the establishment of term limits, and the creation of a code of ethics for justices.

Although the panel found “considerable” support for 18-year term limits for justices, proposals to increase the size of the court were met with “profound disagreement.”

“As we watch this court majority go berserk for its right-wing overlords,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) tweeted Saturday, “is there any regret that the anodyne, feckless Supreme Court commission missed all the major issues: no transparency, no ethics code, dark money appointments, secret gifts, hypocrisy, capture, corruption?”

“More and more people are understanding what I’ve been saying is going on,” he added, pointing to recent reporting by The Lever. “The court got captured by special interests using gobs of dark money.”

In a Sunday appearance on ABC‘s “This Week,” Warren told host Martha Raddatz that the high court has “burned whatever legitimacy they still may have.”

“They just took the last of it and set a torch to it with the Roe v. Wade opinion,” she said. “I believe we need to get some confidence back in our court and that means we need more justices on the United States Supreme Court.”

Soon after Biden created his Supreme Court commission, congressional Democrats—led by Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), and Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) in the House and Markey in the Senate—introduced legislation that would expand the number of seats on the high court from nine to 13.

While its passage is unlikely barring the election of more progressive lawmakers in the upcoming midterms, there is no shortage of ideas for immediate steps the Biden administration could take to protect abortion access in post-Roe America.

In a letter sent to the White House on Saturday, 33 Senate Democrats told Biden that “now is the time for bold action to protect the right to an abortion.”

“You have the power to fight back and lead a national response to this devastating decision,” the letter states, “so we call on you to take every step available to your administration, across federal agencies, to help women access abortions and other reproductive health care, and to protect those who will face the harshest burdens from this devastating and extreme decision.”

Biden has instructed the Justice Department to ensure that pregnant people can travel to states where abortion remains legal, and Attorney General Merrick Garland has vowed to crack down on states that attempt to ban federally approved abortion pills.

But there is much more that can be done, progressives say. As of Sunday, more than 14,200 people have signed Ocasio-Cortez’s petition urging Biden to open abortion clinics on federal lands, especially in states where access to care has already been eliminated or severely reduced.

Kenny Stancil
Kenny Stancil

Kenny Stancil is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

10 comments

  1. Pretty soon ? the Supreme Court as composed will decide on a case brought by right wing anti-abortionites to ban abortion nationwide. No safe havens then. As there are no safe havens now if the Democrats remain somnolent today re installing authentic judges on the Supreme Court and ditching the filibuster.

  2. Thank you for referring to Manchin and Sinema accurately, as “right-wing Democratic senators.” I am so tired of seeing them described as “moderate” or “conservative.”
    They are anything but moderate.. They are extreme and destructive radicals.

  3. My business contacts and relatives around the world have very curious comments about Joe. They regard Joe as a globe trotting superhero whose mission is to out spend China – no matter what.
    Maybe Joe should focus much more on American problems, not Ukraine. Regardless of the long, long, long list of problems in America, such as Supreme Court is now a political tool and not representative of the majority of Americans.
    Other people around the world expect the Supreme Court to also roll back more rights which will undoubtedly further divide the nation.
    These negative, faithless people assume the break up of the US eventually.
    I need better, less optimistic relatives.

  4. Utter crap….and another in a long line of crap that is designed to program you when the time comes to once again submit your rational mind to the control of others and obediently vote blue no matter who.

    Medhi Hasan and the author of the piece of drivel Kenny Stancil from the fake left website Common Dreams are just two more of the endless fake left sheep herders of the Democratic Party and should be recognized as such.

    None of them give a crap about anything other then your continued devotion to a corrupted system and through the art of subtle gaslighting steer you once again back into your pen. The pattern of this are so clear, the number of their kind so numerous, the censorship of real opposing views so clear for all to see that it continually astounds me how few can actually see it.

    People get so invested in their programming, it becomes part of who they perceive themselves to be, and therefore any challenge to their programming no matter how rational, no matter the amount of empirical data maybe presented to them, they will refuse to see it. It’s like they have a circuit breaker in their minds that trips any time they are confronted with uncomfortable truths that do not fit their narrative.

    SheerPost seems to be flooded more and more by such people. I’ve seen this happen before…too many times. It doesn’t bode well….

    1. So true! Can’t hardly breath due to the capitulation to “the fake left website Common Dreams” as Jimmy Dore so forcefully shouts daily!

  5. Mehdi Hasan? Please. The tweets are hilarious and the democrats as they exist today are completely bankrupt. The concept itself is backward thinking and at worst reactionary to a problem long exasperated by the democratic party. This “Constitutional Right” hung on by a thread as have others and know doubt they will fall too. This “right” should have been Federally embedded into the fabric of the nation, as should others, never left up to states in the last 50 years and by not taking action to do so now only ensures it won’t happen. Just vote in November?? Hey, why not put it to a vote now, find out who’s in and who’s out then vote those fake democrats out right. Expansion is a Pandora’s box that never should open and if you are one of those who think it should your part of the problem.

  6. Expanding the Supreme Court is one of those be careful of what you wish for things.

    Some of the control of the Supreme Court has been just bad luck for Dems. You can’t predict when openings will occur.

    Since Richard Nixon, a fair place to start because it was under Nixon that appointments became very ideological and the process very politicized, the R’s have been in power for 32 years and the Dem’s 22 years or 60% of the time in favor of Republicans.

    During that time, the R’s have filled 16 seats and the D’s 4 or 80% of the seats.

    Of course, some might observe that the answer is for Dems to elect their candidate more often. A response might be that had there been a fair recount in Florida and no voter suppression by Republicans, we might have had 8 years of Al Gore instead of George Bush and these proportions might be more even.

    Anyway, it seems that an 18 year term is a reasonable modification as would a mandatory retirement age of 75. Sadly, RBG stayed too long.

  7. Expanding the Supreme Court isn’t at all the solution. In fact, just taking a moment to think about it would reveal that. What’s needed is elimination of the horrible lifetime appointments, replaced with a confirmation every 5 years.

  8. Expanding the Supreme Court is a dumb idea for the simple reason that there is nothing to prevent a Republican president from filling it with conservative zealots.

    The Democrat immediate response to the atrocious intent to annul Roe v Wade was to pass a legislation in the House, a legislation that was, like hundreds of progressive legislative efforts (since 2018 alone) that were stopped by Republicans in the Senate and/or the White House.

    The next move is up to the electorate. If they want democracy, they must vote Republicans out and Democrats in.

    It is a simple, and as obvious as that!

  9. Why does anyone think that Biden is not a right-winger? He always was.

    There was this fake myth that Obama was ‘left’. He was not. He was an Ivy Leaguer who believed in corporate, military and police power all the way, and did damn little to help anyone else. Biden was always a right-wing Senator. He was known as the Senator from MasterCard, and never saw a war he didn’t like. He used to brag about how he was great friends with people like Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond, probably until some political consultant told him to shut up about it because this was why he got single digit support in his previous Presidential runs.

    And yet now, people have this strange belief that because Obama was somehow really far more ‘left’ that he ever governed, and because the Senator from MasterCard was his choice as Veep, then somehow Biden has somehow become a lefty. Uhhh?

    He’s the President from Master Card. Although these days, he can claim to represent all four horsemen of the apocalypse. He’s certainly gunning for a body count to exceed all past Presidents, both at home and abroad. He does not care, not as long as the balance in the family hedge fund goes up.

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