In the hotly contested race for Kansas’ U.S. Senate race, GOP Congressman Roger Marshall and Democrat Barbara Bollier have been sharply divided on a wide-variety of issues and their views on the role of the federal judiciary is no exception.
But in the second U.S. Senate debate Thursday night there is one area where the pair appear to agree: opposing expanding the size of the U.S. Supreme Court, a practice dubbed "court packing."
The idea has gained popularity with liberals who are increasingly frustrated with the decision by Republicans to approve the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the nation’s highest court as a replacement Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last month.
But Bollier said she would not be among them.
"The Supreme Court should not be politicized and I have no interest in expanding the number of judges on the court," she said.
The practice is not without precedent. In 1937, Franklin Delano Roosevelt attempted to push legislation that would have allowed him to appoint additional justices.
The move was ostensibly due to congestion on the court’s calendar but was in reality a reaction to the court striking down New Deal laws favored by Roosevelt. The proposal fell apart after stalling in the Senate, leading to waning support.
Some Democratic candidates in the 2020 presidential primary floated the idea of taking a similar route, however, expanding beyond the nine justices currently on the bench.
The idea gained steam on the left after Barrett’s nomination and it will likely continue to do so after she was endorsed by the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday.
Marshall attempted to tie those voices to Bollier, saying he would oppose
"My opponent’s party is very extreme on this," he said, saying the move would be an opening for "extreme judges" to be appointed to the bench.
Marshall has repeatedly praised Barrett as sharing "Kansas values," although the justice is from Louisiana, and said "she was exactly what the doctor ordered" for the federal judiciary.
Bollier also said she would oppose a tax plan proposed by former Vice President Joe Biden and pledged to vote against it were he elected to the White House.
That plan would hike taxes on those making $400,000 a year or more and also increase the corporate income tax rate.
She said there were aspects of President Donald Trump’s controversial tax cuts that were appealing, although it took a brief pause where Bollier admitted she was "blanking" before she underscored her support for the doubling of the standard deduction, which was housed in Trump’s legislation.
But she cautioned that a more sustainable longterm blueprint was needed.
"I think we need to get together and have taxes that are fair to all, especially for our middle class," Bollier said.
Marshall, a vocal ally of Trump, stood behind the plan, saying it helped to grow the economy. While there was a short-term economic boost after the plan was enacted, many economists argue it has not come close to paying for itself, as Trump has argued.
Still, Marshall said he would stand in the way of those who want to roll back the cuts.
"Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer and the Democratic Party have promised to get rid of those tax cuts," he said.
The race between Marshall and Bollier remains narrow, with a poll from The New York Times/Siena College showing Marshall with a four-point lead.
The race has been the most expensive in Kansas political history. The Center for Responsive Politics pegs the outside spending in the general election race alone at $34 million, not including the hotly contested GOP primary between Marshall and former Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Marshall and Bollier are running to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts. If Bollier wins she will be the first Democrat to represent Kansas in the U.S. Senate since 1932.