ELECTION 2020

Iowa Republicans warn that Democrats would pack Supreme Court if they win

They also worry D.C. would become 51st state

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann speaks during a July 2018 news conference at the Linn County GOP headqua
Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann speaks during a July 2018 news conference at the Linn County GOP headquarters in Cedar Rapids. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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President Donald Trump and the GOP Senate majority are “not plowing new ground” in moving forward to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Iowa Republicans said Friday.

“Where we are plowing new ground here is the reactions of the left” to use Ginsburg’s death as an opportunity to reshape the Supreme Court and the electoral process in their favor, Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann told reporters.

Democrats are “threatening to do the court-packing, they’re trying to push statehood for D.C. — don’t even pretend that we don’t know that D.C. is a guaranteed two more Democratic senators, mandating gerrymandering, abolishing the Electoral College, which scares the living daylights out of every single state that doesn’t have a major, major urban area, and finally destroy the filibuster,” he said.

Trump is expected to announce his nominee to succeed Ginsburg on Saturday, and GOP Senate leaders have said they will proceed with confirmation hearings ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

“We’ll figure out where we go from there,” U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said as she kicked off a “Fighting for Iowa” bus tour Friday morning in Grimes.

“What I’m hearing from Iowans is just that they’ve heard that Chuck Schumer has made some pretty big threats months ago, even before any of this came up,” she said of the Senate minority leader and suggestions that Democrats, if they win control of the Senate, will expand the court to offset the conservative influence of Trump appointees.

“So they see this as a way to push back against the radicalization of our Supreme Court,” Ernst said.

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Kaufmann called on Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, to tell voters where he stands on court-packing and abolishing the Electoral College.

In the past, Biden has opposed packing the court, but more recently, he’s been silent on calls from Democrats to expand the court from its current nine justices.

Democrats — including Senate challenger Theresa Greenfield, Kaufmann said — are “hiding under a rock” to avoid answering questions about their plans for the court.

Greenfield, who earlier opposed court-packing, is “shifting” her position, Ernst said.

“I wouldn’t say that I had formed an opinion on that,” Greenfield said earlier this week, adding “that’s certainly not a high priority for me.”

She changed her position “because Chuck Schumer was backing packing the court,” Ernst said. “She’s not even elected yet, and she’s shifting her position.”

The Greenfield campaign also issued a statement that she prefers reforming campaign ethics rather than expanding the court.

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