The issue of potential court-packing on the part of the Democrats was much discussed during the 2020 election as then-President Donald Trump successfully sought to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in just a few short months ahead of election day.
It appears concern that this might be a proposed solution to the conservative majority Trump left on the high court has been validated as House Democrats are now pursuing just this.
On Thursday, Reps. Mondaire Jones and Jerry Nadler of New York and Hank Johnson of Georgia have co-sponsored the Judiciary Act of 2021, which proposes the number of justices sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court be increased from nine to 13. Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts is the Senate co-sponsor.
Rep. Nadler on his bill to expand the Supreme Court: "As our country has grown, so should the Supreme Court. 13 justices for 13 circuits is a logical progression…and to rectify the great injustice that was done in packing the court." https://t.co/Z1gC6BePs8 pic.twitter.com/sb0gJGEFMA
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) April 15, 2021
Markey, for his part, puts the blame for such a move squarely at the feet of the Trump-era Republican Party.
“The court is broken, and make no mistake about it — the court is broken because Sen. Mitch McConnell, his Senate Republican colleagues, and Donald Trump broke it,” he said of the bill, according to ABC News.
He pointed to Senator Mitch McConnell’s refusal as then-Senate Majority leader to consider Merrick Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia who passed away ahead of the 2016 election, only to agree to confirm now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett ahead of the 2020 election.
At the time, as he did again in 2020, McConnell pointed to the fact that there was an opposing party controlling the Senate when President Barack Obama nominated Garland and he would have been unlikely to be confirmed, as opposed to 2020 when both President Trump and the Senate majority were Republican.
“There can be no justification for what they did. How can Americans look at the Court and expect it to do justice — to do equal justice — when it has been so severely politically manipulated?” said Nadler.
“Some people will say we’re packing the Court. We’re not packing. We’re unpacking. Senator McConnell and the Republicans packed it over the last couple of years.”
The ambitious lawmakers are receiving some pushback from top brass in the party, however. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week she has no intention of bringing the bill to the floor, although her Republican counterpart House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA) has warned “do not trust” the Speaker when she says she won’t consider it.
Pelosi says that what she does support is President Joe Biden’s commission exploring the idea of packing the Supreme Court, which the White House announced last week.
The balance of justices on the high court is an important political issue for many, as many await a SCOTUS ruling on several of today’s most controversial and confusing constitutional issues, such as the right to life, religious freedom, and the Second Amendment.
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