Democrats have been calling for an expansion of the Supreme Court bench ever since then-President Donald Trump effectively solidified the court’s conservative tilt with the confirmation of now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett. But while Republicans have largely been against such efforts, one member of the GOP seems to be for court-packing — at least when it comes to lower courts.
According to Breitbart, Indiana Republican Todd Young joined with Delaware Democrat Chris Coons to introduce a bill in the Senate last month that would add an additional 77 district court judges to the federal judiciary.
Under the provisions of the so-called Judicial Understaffing Delays Getting Emergencies Solved (JUDGES) Act, the new judgeships would come into being in two stages, with 39 openings becoming available after Jan. 21, 2025, and another 38 opening up after Jan. 21, 2029.
The bill argues that such a move is needed to deal with the high volume of cases that federal courts hear. “As of March 31, 2021, there were 696,789 pending cases, averaging 803 filings per judgeship,” the law’s text notes.
Dems say SCOTUS “needs to be fixed”
Still, this bill is unlikely to placate those on the left who have been demanding that new justices be appointed to the nation’s highest court. Fox News reported in April that a collection of Democratic lawmakers held a press conference in front of the Supreme Court during which they made the case for court-packing.
“We’re here today because the United States Supreme Court is broken,” Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey (D) was quoted as saying. “It is out of balance. It needs to be fixed.”
“Expanding the Supreme Court rights the wrongs the Republicans have done to this great court,” Markey added. “Expanding the Supreme Court is equal justice and will ensure equal justice is dispensed to all Americans.”
Markey went on to say that expanding the Supreme Court’s size is essential and that Democrats must eliminate the Senate filibuster rule in order to make it happen.
GOP pushes back
Republicans were quick to push back on the suggestion at the time, however.
“The idea of packing the Supreme Court is so dangerous, we have to address it now,” Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson (R) declared, according to Fox News.
The network also reported that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) has introduced legislation calling for a constitutional amendment to fix the number of SCOTUS justices at nine. There have been nine justices on the bench more than 100 years.
“As my Democrat colleagues brazenly discuss expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court, this legislation and constitutional amendment ensures we prevent either party from wielding the Supreme Court as a political tool for their own advantage,” Cruz said back in February, according to Fox. “I urge my colleagues to defend the fundamental liberties of their constituents — their religious liberty, freedom of speech, and Second Amendment rights — and swiftly take up and pass these proposals to prevent Court-packing.”