Outrage over the actions of the U.S. Supreme Court is growing. This week, a group of Democratic members from both chambers of Congress participated in a press conference led in part by an advocacy organization known as the Take Back the Court Action Fund, where participants pushed expanding the court.
Expanding the Supreme Court has taken place more than half a dozen times throughout U.S. history. At present, the court’s composition doesn’t reflect the will of the people. A man who’s never won the popular vote at the national level selected three of the court’s seven members, including one who’s serving in a seat that was supposed to be occupied by a selection of then-President Barack Obama — who won the popular vote twice. In a very specific context, abortion rights are broadly supported by many Americans, yet the court wiped out federal protections for abortion access with their recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The court’s out-of-step with Americans.
Democrats who participated in the recent press conference advocated for the passage of a piece of legislation called the Judiciary Act that would add four members to the Supreme Court. Nearly 60 Democratic members of the House formally signed onto the bill, although formal support is lower in the Senate. Only three Democrats, or six percent of the Senate Democratic caucus, added their names — although that’s not to say others wouldn’t support it if the measure came up for a vote.
Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), one of those at this week’s press conference, pointed out the urgency behind the push for action. “To my colleagues who say that if we expand the court, Republicans may do it back at some indeterminate time in the future: understand that the nightmare scenario of GOP court-packing is already upon us. That’s how they got this far-right 6-3 majority in the first place.” One could argue waiting to confirm a replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court until after the election in 2020 would’ve been objectively sensible, considering Ginsburg passed away as voting in that year’s high-stakes presidential contest was underway — but Republicans rushed Trump’s third Supreme Court pick anyway, swiftly approving Amy Coney Barrett. “The Supreme Court has gone rogue,” Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) added this week. “It has become a radical institution that does not reflect the will of the people. We need the Judiciary Act of 2021 to expand the number of Justices on the Court to 13 and preserve the rule of law.”
Others set to participate in the press conference included Democratic Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.) alongside Democratic Reps. Hank Johnson (Ga.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), Andy Levin (Mich.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.), and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.). It’s unclear whether the legislation to expand the court might get a vote in the House. It has prominent names signed on including Judiciary Committee chair Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Oversight Committee chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.). House Financial Services Committee chair Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and intel panel chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) are also onboard with the proposal.