The respect from the freshman House Democrat is palpable, right? Less than three months after taking office, Rep. Mondaire Jones has determined that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has outlived his usefulness. The House Judiciary member tells Cheddar that Breyer should retire at the end of this term, a plan which Breyer appears to have already rejected.
“My goodness,” Jones declares, “have we not learned our lesson?” Depends which lesson you think needs learning:
BREAKING — “There’s no question that Justice Breyer, for whom I have great respect, should retire at the end of this term. My goodness: have we not learned our lesson?”
— j.d. durkin (@jiveDurkey) April 16, 2021
Jones was one of the sponsors for the Nadler-Markey bill to pack the Supreme Court, launched yesterday morning and torpedoed immediately by Nancy Pelosi. Jones has wanted to make a name for himself as a member of “The Squad 2.0,” and taking aim at a liberal SCOTUS icon certainly will get Jones noticed. Although, if Jonathan Swan is correct, Jones is only more vocal than his House Democrat colleagues:
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) April 16, 2021
That’s doubtless the case, because they see the political calculations. One of the obvious calculations is that court-packing isn’t going anywhere. If Jones thought it had a chance, he wouldn’t try to push Breyer off the court. His bill is nothing more than a stunt, and in a session where the midterms look ever-present, a potentially dangerous stunt for other Democrats. (And perhaps not entirely safe for Jones, either; his NY-17 district is a solid D+9, but that’s not necessarily a lock either for a freshman in his first midterm election.) That’s why Pelosi put the kibosh on it before the bill could barely draw its first breath.
The next political calculation: Democrats don’t want a Supreme Court nomination fight right before the midterms. They need Breyer out this summer; by next summer, it will be too late. Any Supreme Court fight will amp up GOP turnout, and that will put control of the House at risk, if not the Senate.
With that in mind, this might look like cost-free stuntwork by Jones. However, the radical tilt of House Democrats in this session is already feeding Republican attack ads for the fall of 2022, and Jones will likely feature prominently in those. Turning on a liberal icon like Breyer makes Democrats look even more radical than they were in last year’s election cycle. I’ll have more on that from Joe Scarborough later in the afternoon, but Jones may be talking Nancy Pelosi out of a job. Meanwhile, Breyer will leave when he’s good and ready, and as long as Jones and his allies keep talking about packing the court, the less ready Breyer will be to leave the stage.
Update: I’d forgotten that Jones said this a couple of days ago:
Supreme Court expansion is infrastructure.
— Mondaire Jones (@MondaireJones) April 15, 2021
Does bulldozing seniors count as infrastructure too?