McConnell blasts Democrats over talk of court-packing

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul McConnell hopes Senate impeachment trial 'not too lengthy a process' Former Speaker Boehner's official portrait unveiled MORE (R-Ky.) on Thursday knocked Democrats over their ongoing debate about expanding the Supreme Court to appoint more liberal justices, an idea backed by a growing number of 2020 presidential candidates. 

McConnell, speaking from the Senate floor, said adding seats to the high court is an "absurd notion" and accused Democrats of wanting to retaliate because they lost the 2016 White House race. 

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"The idea that sometimes they lose elections and Republican presidents sometimes subsequently appoint Supreme Court justices is apparently no longer tolerated," McConnell said. 

He added that the "far left" was trying "rewrite the rules" to "stack the court." 

"So out of the ash heap of history came this talk of ‘court-packing.’ A notion that would threaten the rule of law and our American judicial system as we have long understood it. A radical proposal that has been dead and buried by bipartisan consensus for almost a century," McConnell added.

Once dismissed as a fringe idea, reforming the nation’s highest court is gaining traction with a growing number of Democratic 2020 candidates as progressive outside groups and high-profile officials, including former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderPelosi refers to Sinclair's Rosen as 'Mr. Republican Talking Points' over whistleblower question Krystal Ball: Billionaires panicking over Sanders candidacy Obama celebrates 'great night for our country' after Democrats' victories in Virginia and Kentucky MORE, have vaulted the idea into the national spotlight.

Supporters argue that it's necessary since Republicans and Trump have confirmed two Supreme Court justices and a historic number of influential circuit court judges after refusing to take up former President Obama’s final Supreme Court nomination in 2016. Republicans nixed the 60-vote filibuster for Supreme Court picks in 2017 and have moved appeals judges over the objections of home-state senators. 

Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann Warren2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Sanders doubles down on Bolivia 'coup,' few follow suit Overnight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul MORE (D-Mass.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisKamala Harris endorses Christy Smith in bid to fill Katie Hill's seat Poll: Biden holds 11-point lead over Warren in Arizona Poll: Biden and Warren are neck and neck in California MORE (D-Calif.) told Politico that the option should be on the table as part of a larger conversation among Democrats about the direction of the American judicial system. And Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandMaloney primary challenger calls on her to return, donate previous campaign donations from Trump Senate confirms controversial circuit court nominee She Should Run launches initiative to expand number of women in political process MORE (D-N.Y.) told "Pod Save America" that the idea was “interesting” and she would “need to think more about it.”  

Republicans have seized on the fight as an example of Democrats shifting further to the left ahead of the 2020 election.

McConnell, on Thursday, urged Democratic senators to push back against talk of expanding the Supreme Court. 

"I hope my colleagues will have the courage to look at these far-left agitators in the eye and tell them that some traditions and some institutions are more important than partisan point scoring," McConnell said. "I have to say at this point that kind of courageous statement would come as a pleasant surprise."