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Court packing: Where the 2020 candidates stand

Supreme Court
Photo: Geoff Livingston/Getty Images

Many 2020 candidates have been flirting with the idea of expanding the Supreme Court, while others have fully rejected the idea.

Background: The Constitution allows Congress to change the number of justices that sit on the court. Historically, the number has flexed 7 times. In recent years, Democrats have had little success pushing their picks through: Republicans blocked President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, and pushed Justice Brett Kavanaugh's controversial nomination through.

Who is open to court packing:

Mayor Pete Buttigieg: The Indiana mayor was among the first candidates to talk about court packing. Buttigieg told The Intercept he would work on restructuring the Supreme Court, expanding it to 15 justices, in which 5 justices would be selected by the Court through an unanimous vote. Buttigieg said that would help "de-politicize" the Court.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said: "We are on the verge of a crisis of confidence in the Supreme Court. We have to take this challenge head on, and everything is on the table to do that," per Politico. She said she is open to the idea of court packing.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.): Warren said the focus on the Supreme Court should be to reform and depoliticize it, reports Politico. She is open to expanding the Supreme Court.

Tech executive Andrew Yang said expanding the Supreme Court "isn't something that should be ruled out," per the Washington Post. On his campaign website, Yang is more focused on limiting how long justices can serve, proposing an 18-year limit.

Mayor Wayne Messam (D-Fla.): is open to increasing the number of Supreme Court justices, but also said: "Make no mistake, the court is already packed," reports the Washington Post.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) says he is "taking nothing off the table," and that "our Supreme Court is way out of whack."

Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT): "I’m open to discussion on different ways we can depoliticize the Supreme Court, including expanding the court."

Who opposes court packing:

President Trump said he "wouldn't entertain" the idea of court packing, reports Reuters. Trump said Democrats have only proposed the idea because "they want to try to catch up."

Former Vice President Joe Biden: "No, I’m not prepared to go on and try to pack the court, because we’ll live to rue that day."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.): Sanders is against court packing, but believes in imposing term limits, reports Reuters. He said, "My worry is that the next time the Republicans are in power they will do the same thing."

Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro told the Washington Post he is open to reforming the Supreme Court, but not adding more justices.

Former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) opposes court packing, and has even warned Democrats about the idea, suggesting it would lead to "partisan warfare." Instead, he supports reforms and term limits.

Marianne Williamson told WaPo she doesn't support this idea.

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.): Bennet told WaPo he does not support court packing.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) noted to the WaPo she does not support the idea.

Joe Sestak told WaPo he does not support the idea.

Mixed messages:

Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Tex.): At a rally in Iowa, O'Rourke said court packing is an idea that should be explored. He also proposed doubling the number of seats by 5 to 10. O'Rourke proposed Republicans and Democrats select 5 justices each and the last 5 be selected independently by the justices. But O'Rourke has also told the Post he does not support court packing.

Who hasn't mentioned it:

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.): While Klobuchar hasn't mentioned court packing, she told CBS she is more focused on placing qualified judges in higher courts.

Go deeper: Everything you need to know about every 2020 presidential candidate