BLUE HILL, Maine — Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Sara Gideon said Thursday that she does not see progressive proposals such as adding Supreme Court justices or term limits as solutions to increased politicization of the courts.
The Supreme Court figures to be a wire-to-wire issue in the Maine House speaker’s campaign against fourth-term Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican whose 2018 vote for Justice Brett Kavanuagh sparked unprecedented organization against her by Democrats. The 2020 election has been upended by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal icon, last week.
President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, have pressed ahead with a plan to confirm a justice perhaps prior to the Nov. 3 election. Collins is one of two Republican senators who has opposed that plan, saying she would oppose any justice advanced to the Senate before the election, but Republicans do not need her vote.
Gideon, who has at least narrowly led Collins in all independent public polls conducted so far in 2020, opened a campaign event at Northern Light Blue Hill Hospital on Thursday by acknowledging her concern that a conservative-led Supreme Court could undo the Affordable Care Act. The court will hear a case on the law in November.
Some Democrats, angered by McConnell’s move to immediately instate a new justice after refusing to hold hearings for a justice nominated by President Barack Obama in 2016, have proposed reforms including adding justices to the Supreme Court or instituting term limits. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, has opposed court-packing.
Gideon lined up with him, saying she sees it as a priority to ensure the judiciary is “a separate branch of government and free of politicization,” but she indicated wariness of some proposals from progressive Democrats so far, saying she does not think they would achieve that objective.
“I know that there is this tempting conversation about fighting back from the left or fighting from the right, and I think that is exactly what we need to move past,” Gideon said.
She said she would be open to proposals to reform the judiciary, but only if she thought they worked toward bolstering the branch’s independence and she said no proposal to date “convinces me that it will achieve that goal.”
Following Ginsburg’s death, Gideon agreed with Collins that the Senate should not vote to confirm a nominee prior to the election. Trump has said he will announce his nominee this weekend.
The Democrat from Freeport has expressed support for other political reforms, including completely repealing the Senate filibuster, the 60-vote threshold to block Senate action that has eroded over the last decade. Collins’ campaign has said doing that to “ram through a far left agenda is bad for Maine and bad for America.”