U.S. Supreme Court

Democrats introduce bill to expand Supreme Court; opponents warn of 'politicians in robes'

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Democrats introduced legislation Thursday to expand the U.S. Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices.

According to Politico, the bill “is all but guaranteed to prompt attacks from Republicans.”

Reuters also has coverage; a press release is here.

Legislators introducing the bill—the Judiciary Act of 2021—are House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York, U.S. Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts and U.S. Reps. Hank Johnson of Georgia and Mondaire Jones of New York.

“Nine justices may have made sense in the 19th century when there were only nine circuits, and many of our most important federal laws—covering everything from civil rights, to antitrust, the internet, financial regulation, health care, immigration and white collar crime—simply did not exist and did not require adjudication by the Supreme Court,” Nadler said in the press release. “But the logic behind having only nine justices is much weaker today, when there are 13 circuits. Thirteen justices for 13 circuits is a sensible progression.”

Markey said in the press release former Republicans “stole the court’s majority” when they confirmed Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in the last few months of the Trump administration. Yet Republicans refused to consider former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, during the last year of his presidency.

The Supreme court has had nine justices since 1869, according to Reuters. At other times, Congress has set the the size of the Supreme Court at amounts ranging from six to 10 justices, according to the press release.

President Joe Biden has previously indicated that he is not a fan “court packing.” Earlier this month, Biden appointed a commission to study proposals for changing the high court.

Biden’s previous misgivings about court packing are highlighted in a $1 million ad buy by the Judicial Crisis Network, which opposes the bill.

In a tweet, Carrie Severino, president of the Judicial Crisis Network, said “the left and the liberal dark money groups that support them won’t stop agitating to pack the court. They won’t be satisfied with a report from a commission. They want to pack the Court with politicians in robes who will advance their radical agenda.”

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