Bernie Sanders says he would move to 'rotate' Supreme Court justices if elected

Bernie Sanders says he would move to 'rotate' Supreme Court justices if elected
© Getty Images

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBoycott sham impeachment Sunday shows - Biden agenda, Trump impeachment trial dominate Sanders: Senate may use budget reconciliation to pass Biden agenda MORE (I-Vt.) on Thursday night floated the idea of rotating Supreme Court justices to other courts to bridge the current ideological divide. 

"I do not believe in packing the court," Sanders said during the second of the first two 2020 Democratic presidential debates. "We’ve got a terrible 5-4 majority conservative court right now. But I do believe constitutionally we have the power to rotate judges to other courts and that brings in new blood into the Supreme Court and a majority I hope that will understand that a woman has a right to control her own body and that corporations cannot run the United States of America."


Sanders made the comments while addressing a question posed about what he would do as president if a conservative-led Supreme Court struck down Roe V. Wade, the landmark ruling that established the right to an abortion. 

Sanders, an outspoken advocate of abortion rights, reiterated his stance that a woman's right to control her body was a "constitutional right."

He also promised to "never nominate any Supreme Court justice to the Supreme Court unless that justice is 100 percent clear he or she will defend will defend Roe V. Wade."

Asked by MSNBC's Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowFauci describes 'chilling' pressure on scientists in Trump era Fauci tells Maddow he was 'blocked' from going on show under Trump admin A vaccine, a Burrito and more: 7 lighter, memorable moments from 2020 MORE if Roe v. Wade was already overturned when he was president, Sanders responded by noting that his "Medicare for All" legislation would guarantee abortion rights. 

This isn't the first time Sanders has offered the idea rotating Supreme Court justices. 

"What may make sense is, if not term limits, then rotating judges to the appeals court as well," Sanders said at the We the People summit in Washington in April, according to CNN. "Letting them get out of the Supreme Court and bringing in new blood."
Preet BhararaPreet BhararaReimagining the role of the next SEC chair What a Biden administration should look like Democratic attorneys criticize House Judiciary Democrats' questioning of Barr MORE, who once served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, questioned the idea, asking on Twitter whether he was "missing something."
A Sanders spokesperson told The Hill that Sanders's plan to reform the courts "would be to rotate Supreme Court justices down to circuit courts after a set term limit, serving out the remainder of their lifetime appointment in lower courts."
"Bernie believes if we were to pack the court, Republicans would simply do so the next time they gained power," the spokesperson said. "Bernie's plan would only require an act of Congress." 
--Updated Friday at 10:43 a.m.