CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., joined Republican colleagues on Wednesday to oppose adding seats to the Supreme Court and reaffirm support for Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the bench.
A group of senators spoke in support of a constitutional amendment capping the Supreme Court at nine justices as progressives push for expanding the court. Such expansion could happen if Democrats gain control of the Senate and former Vice President Joe Biden wins this year’s presidential race.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, in March 2019 introduced the proposal limiting the number of justices. The size of the court is not stated in the U.S. Constitution and is instead a congressional matter.
Capito supported the proposal upon its introduction.
“I can’t think of a more destabilizing event for America than change the number of judges on the Supreme Court every election cycle,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said during a press conference with colleagues. “It becomes a winner-take-all for the court.”
Biden said this month he does not support adding seats, but questions regarding the court’s future loom in light of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last month. Democrats have expressed concerns about confirming Barrett as a justice, including what it could mean for former President Barack Obama’s health care law and abortion rights.
Barrett has spoken out against the Supreme Court’s decisions upholding “Obamacare” and the verdict in Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case legalizing abortion. Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee pressed Barrett during hearings last week about her previous statements, to which Barrett said she would not express any views on a legal matter before reviewing it as a justice.
Capito met with Barrett on Sept. 30; the senator told reporters following the meeting Barrett is committed to separating her personal views from her judicial work.
“I think you want a thoughtful, impartial set of justice to judge us as policymakers, to judge the president as the executive,” she said Wednesday. “Every check and balance that the court brings to us keeps us from veering too far from what the American people really want.”
Capito additionally spoke on the Senate floor about Barrett and the judge’s appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“I am been extremely impressed with Judge Amy Coney Barrett,” Capito said. “I was especially impressed with her depth of legal knowledge coupled with her demeanor. She very clearly and eloquently expresses herself.”
Questions regarding “Obamacare” remain as the Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments on the health care law for Nov. 10. Eighteen states — including West Virginia — and the U.S. Department of Justice are suing to have the law overturned, arguing the reduction of the individual mandate in the 2017 tax law made “Obamacare” unconstitutional.
Capito stated she supports mandating insurance companies cover individuals with preexisting conditions, which is part of the health care law.
“Passing laws like those are what we should be doing here in this body, not in the Supreme Court,” she said.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., met with Barrett earlier this month and expressed concerns about what installing Barrett could mean for “Obamacare.” He has also shared issues about confirming a nomination close to Election Day.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on the nomination on Thursday, yet Democratic committee members are planning to boycott the vote. Graham serves as Judiciary Committee chairman.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said this week the full chamber will vote on the nomination next Monday.