McConnell says court-packing question should have been 'easy thing' for Biden Supreme Court nominee to answer

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Sunday said that President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will be treated “much better” than Democrats treated Republican nominees, but said she will have to answer “tough questions” about her record.

During an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” McConnell acknowledged that he had a “very good conversation” in his office with her, but said it was problematic that she could  not answer a question that he believed would have been an “easy thing” to respond to.

“I asked her to defend the court. 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,” McConnell said. “That would have been an easy thing for her to do to defend the integrity of the court. She wouldn’t do that.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters after a Republican strategy meeting at the Capitol on Oct. 19, 2021.
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

“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 added.

“Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan followed up to clarify that McConnell could be persuaded to support her nomination, prompting McConnell to say, “I’m going to listen to the hearings.”

“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.”

“I’m willing to listen to the testimony,” he added. “That’s why we have hearings.”

McConnell met with Jackson earlier this month and released a statement afterwards, calling it a “cordial discussion.” However, he said he has reservations about Jackson based on some of the “fringe groups” supporting her nomination.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks after President Biden announces her nomination to the Supreme Court at the White House on Feb. 25, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

“[C]uriously, 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,” McConnell said. “At this time last year they were already spending dark money to raise her profile. So I intend to explore why groups that are waging political war against the Court as an institution decided Judge Jackson was their special favorite.”

Demand Justice, one of the top liberal groups supporting Jackson’s nomination, has been vocal over the last couple of years about their support of expanding the Supreme Court, or court-packing. Elie Mystal, a board member of the group, has used his Twitter account to push for this and tweeted in 2020 that a “40 member SCOTUS doesn’t bother [him].” 

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