John Hickenlooper did not rule out an effort to expand the number of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, but was less than enthusiastic about supporting a so-called court-packing effort should Democrats prevail in the general election and gain control of the White House and the Senate.
“I’ve never been in favor of those kinds of institutional changes. Now, again, this could be exceptional times,” Hickenlooper said in a brief telephone interview Sunday about any effort by Democrats to expand the Supreme Court to 11 or more justices after the election.
The former Democratic governor of Colorado is seeking to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Yuma, on Nov. 3.
The former governor said if voters remove Republican senators like Gardner and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, better policy outcomes benefiting Coloradans will come from Washington.
“Generally, once we get the right people in Washington – if you get Cory Gardner and Mitch McConnell out of there, get the right people there – I think that’ll go a long way towards helping change the way decisions get made and the way we create policy,” he said.
Hickenlooper held out hope that a couple of GOP senators will change their minds and delay the confirmation process of Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s pick to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, until after the Nov. 3 election.
“Some people call me naive,” he said of his belief that Barrett’s confirmation could still be delayed.
Gardner has said he plans to vote to confirm Barrett.
Hickenlooper said if Barrett is confirmed and goes on to cast the deciding vote to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Democrats in the U.S. Senate would need to scramble to get it reinstated.
“No one really knows how she’s going to vote on this health care bill,” he said. “But if she gets rid of the Affordable Care Act, and we have a Democratic majority in the Senate, we’re going to have our work cut out for us because I’m sure we won’t have 60 votes. So, we’ll have to figure out some way to make sure we put the Affordable Care Act back in place.”
He estimated if the ACA is repealed by the high court between 20 million to 30 million people would lose health insurance coverage.
Hickenlooper focused on improving broadband quality when speaking about a rural-urban divide in Colorado.
“We haven’t gotten the quality of broadband we want to, but we’ve gotten broadband to most of the state, almost every town. I think by the end of this year we’ll be very close,” he said. “And then once you’ve got the basics, then you can go back to places that are far away, like Durango, and say: ‘All right, how do we get higher upload and download speeds in there?’”
He also said Trump’s imposition of tariffs has been particularly hard on Colorado farmers.
“Trump’s tariff wars just demolished the rural economies around the country. And if you’re a corn farmer or a soybean farmer, you’ve had four horrible years under Donald Trump.”
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, the CARES Act, provided “huge gifts to giant corporations” but “left small farmers high and dry,” he said.