Since securing a slim majority on Capitol Hill in November’s election, many Democrats have pushed for legislation that would pack the U.S. Supreme Court with additional judges.
Such proposals have been met with strong GOP opposition, however, including 20 Republican governors who recently sent President Joe Biden a letter urging him to reject the idea.
“It will never be enough”
The Republican effort includes the argument that altering the balance on the nation’s highest court will result in a judicial arms race with each party seeking to outdo the other in making new appointments.
“Legal scholars from across the country and on both sides of the political aisle agree that court packing will breed perpetual court packing — it will never be enough,” the governors wrote.
Furthermore, they contended that every new “partisan shift will result in seats added to the Court until the Court has lost not only its independence but its authority.”
Attempting to sway the president to their way of thinking, the governors advised him to reconsider a commission he approved in April that would be tasked with exploring the feasibility of court reform — including the addition of new Supreme Court justices.
That commission is chaired by New York University School of Law professor Bob Bauer and Yale Law School professor Cristina Rodriguez.
“A logical progression”
For their part, Democrats in favor of expanding the court have attempted to defend the prevailing push to add four seats, bringing the total number of justices to 13.
“Some people will say we’re packing the court,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) in April. “We’re unpacking it. [Senate Republican Leader Mitch] McConnell and Republicans packed the court over the last couple of years [and] this is a reaction to that.”
As for the proposal itself, Nadler called it “a logical progression” that gives the Supreme Court one justice for each of the federal judiciary’s circuits.
“It is a proper number that matches the number of circuits as it has historically, and it also will enable us to do justice and to rectify the great injustice done in packing the court,” he declared.
Although Democrats are clearly upset over the manner in which former President Donald Trump was able to appoint three justices and establish a conservative majority, the GOP governors warned Biden that the “end result of court packing would lead to inconsistent rulings that undermine the legitimacy of the Court and fail to guide our nation and serve our states.”