House Democrats are beginning the process of passing a bill that would expand the number of seats on the Supreme Court from nine to thirteen. Democrats are playing coy by saying thirteen is the right number because there are thirteen circuit courts around the country. The more honest take is that they are motivated by taking back power in the nation’s highest court and getting retaliation against Mitch McConnell and Republicans for stealing a Supreme Court seat. Adding four liberal justices would sway the majority on the court from being 6-3 conservative to being 7-6 liberal. The legislation is known as the Judiciary Act and it is being introduced by Ed Markey in the Senate and Jerry Nadler, Hank Johnson, and Mondaire Jones in the House. Recently, President Biden signed an executive order to look into potential reforms to the courts, with expansion being on the table.
Republicans crossed a line when they rushed through Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement after denying President Obama’s pick in 2016. Democrats are well within their rights to find ways to retaliate for that power grab operated by Mitch McConnell and Republicans. Possible expansion or “packing” of the court is one thing to consider but there are other reforms to think about as well. There should be term limits on Supreme Court justices. It might even make sense to rotate out judges up from and down to lower courts. Ultimately, this conversation is moot without abolishing or weakening the filibuster and at this point, it’s clear that Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema don’t want to do that.
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