Democrats Launch Long-Shot Bid to Expand US Supreme Court
By Staff, Agencies
A group of congressional Democrats launched a daunting bid Thursday to expand the US Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices, angering Republicans who accused their rivals of attempting a power grab to enact President Joe Biden’s agenda.
The move appears to be an effort by the party’s progressive wing to pressure Biden on the explosive issue, less than one week after the president announced he was forming a commission to study reforming the high court, including the question of adding justices.
The Supreme Court sits as the final arbiter on fundamental American legal matters, which can include minority, racism, the death penalty and electoral controversies – and its justices are appointed for life.
Several liberal Democrats have said expansion is necessary after Donald Trump gave the bench a 6-3 conservative majority with three picks, including one just eight days before the 2020 election and after millions of Americans had voted.
“We are here today because the United States Supreme Court is broken, it is out of balance, and it needs to be fixed,” Senator Ed Markey told reporters on the building’s front steps, adding that Americans worry the court is “no longer a neutral arbiter” of the nation’s constitutional questions.
The bill, which would allow Biden to fill all four new seats, appears doomed to fail — at least for now.
Asked whether she supports it, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters “no,” adding she did not have plans to bring it to a floor vote.
Although hesitant, Biden has agreed to consider reform, and last week ordered the creation of a bipartisan commission of scholars, former administration officials and retired federal judges to study the issue.
The White House has downplayed any potential frustration over the lawmakers’ rush to introduce their legislation, although spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Biden would wait to hear from the commission before forming a view.