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Watch Now: Sasse says court packing would blow up Senate
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Watch Now: Sasse says court packing would blow up Senate

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Sen. Ben Sasse said Democratic action to increase the size of the U.S. Supreme Court would "blow up" both the court and the U.S. Senate because it would be accompanied by action abolishing the Senate's filibuster rule.

"What they're really talking about is the suicide bombing of two branches of government," Sasse said during an interview Sunday with Chris Wallace on Fox News prior to the opening of hearings on the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to a seat on the Supreme Court.

Sasse is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which began the hearings Monday, and he repeated those concerns during his opening statement.

But Sasse also zeroed in on what he described as "a positive, grand, unifying truth about America, and that is religious liberty."

When Barrett last appeared before the committee for confirmation hearings on her nomination to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, some of the questioning related to her Catholic faith. 

"The good news is whether you think your religious beliefs might be judged wacky by someone else, it's none of the business of this committee to delve into any of that in this context because in this committee, and in this Congress, and in this constitutional structure, religious liberty is the basic truth," Sasse said.

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"And whatever you or I or Judge Barrett believes about God isn't any of the government's business.

"We should all reaffirm that in common," Sasse said, "and that should be on display over the course of the next four days in this committee."

Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, is a member of the committee and is certain to question Barrett about her views on abortion rights in connection with a future court review of Roe v. Wade.

Some Democrats have discussed the possibility of adding a couple of seats to the Supreme Court in retaliation for Republican action denying consideration of Democratic President Barack Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland nine months before a presidential election while rushing through President Donald Trump's nomination of Barrett weeks before this year's presidential election.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has refused to say whether he would support an increase in the number of judges on the nine-member court.

Sasse told Wallace that "the reason I think that Amy Barrett is a rock star and should be on the court is because she is very clear about her jurisprudence ... she's an originalist, and she is a textualist.'

"Our judges don't wear red or blue jerseys," he said. "They don't advocate for policy positions.

"And we shouldn't be having either Democrats or Republicans on the committee trying to figure out how can they (judges) divine the future or how they'll rule on particular issues."

The 2020 Journal Star general election Voter's Guide

Your guide to Lincoln-area and statewide races and ballot questions that will appear on the Nov. 3 general election ballot. Click on a race name to see the candidates and learn about their views on the issues.

Law
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Nebraska voters will decide whether to cap the maximum annual rates associated with payday loans at 36% following a successful ballot initiative.

Politics
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Republican Sen. Ben Sasse is seeking reelection to a second six-year term and will face Democratic nominee Chris Janicek of Omaha on the ballot.

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Nebraska holds three seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Eastern Nebraska's 1st District includes Lincoln; the 2nd District includes Omaha; and the 3rd District encompasses western and central Nebraska, along with the northeastern and southeastern corners of the state.

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Forty-nine women and men serve in Nebraska's unique, one-house Legislature.

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The Lower Platte South Natural Resources District covers about 1,600 square miles in Southeast Nebraska, including most of Lancaster and Cass counties and parts of Otoe, Seward, Butler and Saunders counties.

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Only one of the two seats on the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners up for election this year features a contested race.

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The University of Nebraska Board of Regents consists of eight members elected to serve six-year terms representing districts across the state.

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The State Board of Education sets state education policy and regulations, and oversees the Nebraska Department of Education.

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Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSdon

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