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If GOP Creates 'Illegitimate Majority' on Supreme Court, More Justices Should be Added: Former U.S. Attorney General

Newsweek logo Newsweek 9/20/2020 Khaleda Rahman
Eric Holder wearing a suit and tie: Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during an interview on February 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. Holder accused Republicans of "blatant hypocrisy" for moving to push through a Supreme Court nomination so close to the presidential election. © Toya Sarno Jordan/Getty Images Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during an interview on February 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. Holder accused Republicans of "blatant hypocrisy" for moving to push through a Supreme Court nomination so close to the presidential election.

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said that if Republicans create an "illegitimate" conservative majority on the Supreme Court, more justices should be added.

Holder, who was the nation's top lawyer for six years during the Obama administration, accused Republicans of "blatant hypocrisy" for moving to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death so close to the presidential election.

In an appearance on MSNBC's PoliticsNation on Saturday, Holder told Rev. Al Sharpton that the position being taken by President Donald Trump and the Republican Party is "totally inconsistent" with the position they took with Merrick Garland, who President Barack Obama nominated to the Supreme Court in March 2016.

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Holder also said that if Republicans were successful in filling the seat, Democrats should respond by reforming the nation's highest court—and add more justices.

"It's blatant hypocrisy," Holder said. "It's totally inconsistent with the position that they took to Merrick Garland."

"From my perspective, having a nomination in the last year of a president's term, I don't have a problem with that," he added.

"I think what President Obama did was appropriate, but when you get this close to an election, when votes have already started to be cast in Virginia and in other states as well, it's far too close to the election for a nomination to be tendered and to be considered especially given the reality that were confronting where we're likely to have this president be defeated and where you're likely to have a new Senate after November 3rd."

He continued: "I think it's hypocritical and it tends to politicize the courts generally, the Supreme Court specifically and will over the long term will undermine the legitimacy of the court."


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Sharpton noted that the matter involved "very serious issues," including abortion rights, voting rights, LGBTQ rights and thee Affordable Care Act.

"If we have a tilted court based on some hypocritical politics and these issues are weighed that way, we're talking about generations could be impacted by this," he added.

Holder said: "That's exactly right. You would put in place, if this is allowed to happen, a 6-3 court. And with all the issues that you have talked about, you would have a conservative majority on the court, illegitimate conservative majority on the court, ruling on these matters that will effect the nation for generations to come."

Holder added that if Garland had been confirmed, there would have been a progressive majority on the Supreme Court for the past three years.

"Think about what that meant," he said. "So I think if, if in fact they are successful in placing a justice on the court, I think that what Democrats have to do, assuming that Biden is president and there is a Senate majority for the Democrats, we need think about court reform.

"And at a minimum, as part of that reform package, I think additional justices need to be placed on the Supreme Court."

At a rally on Saturday night, Trump vowed to put forth a female nominee for the empty seat despite the objections of Democrats.

At least one Republican senator has already broken ranks. Maine's Susan Collins has said she believed replacing Ginsburg should be the decision of the president who is elected in November.

Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, also said any selection should come after the election. "Let me be clear: The voters should pick a President, and that President should select a successor to Justice Ginsburg," he tweeted.

Ginsburg also wanted her replacement to be chosen after the election.

In her final statement, reportedly made to her granddaughter Clara Spera on her deathbed just days before she passed away, she said: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

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