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Dems introduce bill to expand Supreme Court to 13 justices

The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 10, 2020. (Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA/TNS)
April 15, 2021

Democrats in Congress introduced legislation Thursday expanding the size of the Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices, according to a press release from Democrat Congressman Jerry Nadler.

Led by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), Representative Nadler (D-NY), Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Representative Mondaire Jones (D-NY), the Judiciary Act of 2021 seeks to add four seats to the high court for the first time in over 150 years.

“This bill would restore balance to the nation’s highest court after four years of norm-breaking actions by Republicans led to its current composition and greatly damaged the Court’s standing in the eyes of the American people,” the Democrats’ release claimed.

“In order for the Court to fulfill its duty to deliver equal justice under the law, and protect the rights and well-being of millions of Americans, the legislation expands the Court to restore balance, integrity and independence to it.”

The bill sparked backlash from Republican lawmakers like Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, who tweeted that it would “destroy the Supreme Court.”

“The Democrats would do anything for power,” he added.

GOP Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee mocked Representative Jones’ tweet about expansion being infrastructure, saying, “House Democrats are now packing the Supreme Court in the name of infrastructure. You can’t make this up.”

Earlier this week, Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI) announced a proposed constitutional amendment limiting the size of the Supreme Court to nine justices.

Co-sponsored by Representatives Chris Jacobs (R-NY), Ken Buck (R-CO), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Ted Budd (R-NC), and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), the measure came following President Joe Biden’s announcement on the creation of a commission to explore Supreme Court reform.

“We don’t need a commission to know court packing is a radical idea that would undermine confidence in one of our country’s most important — and trusted — institutions,” said Rep. Gallagher. “The Supreme Court has been comprised of nine justices for more than 150 years, and it’s time we amend the Constitution to make this longstanding precedent permanent before it’s too late.”

The proposal to expand the Supreme Court was also previously criticized by the late liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who said during an interview with NPR that she was “not at all in favor” of the idea.

“[Expanding the court is] a bad idea…if anything would make the court appear partisan it would be that – one side saying, when we’re in power we’re going to enlarge the number of judges…so I am not at all in favor,” Ginsburg said.