Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) admitted that her party is looking at expanding the Supreme Court beyond nine justices because they don’t like the last three justices appointed by former President Donald Trump.
“Okay, well first thing on the court, we have not increased the number of judges on the Supreme Court since Lincoln’s day, when it became nine. So, there is a discussion that could be had about should we expand that,” Pelosi told students at Cambridge University on Monday. Adding, “The only thing is, when you talk about it, everybody says you’re being political, you’re only doing it because you don’t like the justices who are there. The second part of that is true but … it’s not about politics.”
The speaker said there are some things that need to be reformed about the Supreme Court, criticizing the fact that appointees to the highest court in the nation do not have to disclose their assets like elected officials in the U.S. Congress, but they make very important decisions that affect the public.
“Mount Olympus … we don’t have to know anything about them, and they make decisions that affect our lives. In many ways, whether it’s climate—they’ll make important climate, environmental decisions—they make decisions in relation to a woman’s right to choose, and make decisions in relating to voting rights—you name any subject. We’re at the mercy of this court that is on Mount Olympus, accountable to no one—for life,” Pelosi said.
The speaker said Democrats will make a decision about whether or not to expand the court after the panel appointed by President Joe Biden issues their report on the legal ramifications of doing so because it is an issue of justice.
Robert Henneke, General Counsel at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, told The Epoch Times that Biden’s “bipartisan group of experts” on the commission to study the Supreme Court reforms is not impartial.
“A sham commission set up, both for Biden to deflect away from having to engage on this terrible idea, but then to create a bias commission that would agree with the progressive viewpoint,” said Henneke.
Biden’s April Executive Order, “directs that the commission complete its report within 180 days of its first public meeting. This action is part of the Administration’s commitment to closely study measures to improve the federal judiciary …”
Pelosi praised her Party’s effort to ensure justice and fairness by having the commission study the consequences of expanding the Supreme Court.
“So, there are some things that are worthy of conversation and, to that end, President Biden established a commission to study that. It’s not something that you just walk in and say, I heard at a rally we should pursue the Court so let’s just do that, but no let’s study what the ramifications are and how you do it in a way that is not interpreted as … a political decision, but a decision of justice,” said Pelosi. Adding, “So, there’s just an injustice … but I don’t think you’ll see any move to increase the Court until the President’s commission makes its report.”
But Henneke said expanding the Court is a “terrible idea” that would have long-term consequences.
Adding more justices to the Supreme Court, “would further politicize the court and subject it to manipulation by the legislative branch depending upon which side is in power,” said Henneke. “The speaker’s proposal to court pack, to add more votes until her side wins, you can see where that leads to. That leads to then the Republicans, when it’s their turn, adding more justices until their side wins. And that’s not what the role of the courts are; the courts are not to be on one side or another.”
Now deceased Democrat-appointed Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg previously said she was opposed to packing the court.
“I have heard that there are some people on the Democratic side, who would like to increase the number of judges. I think that was a bad idea when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried to pack the court.” Ginsburg said in a 2019 interview. “So, I am not at all in favor of that solution to what I see is a temporary situation.”
“These three last Justices, that went to the court did not have to reach the 60-vote threshold because the Republicans changed the rules to say, to confirm the Supreme Court justices as you just need to do a simple majority,” said Pelosi.
However, Henneke called the speaker’s comment on the 60-vote threshold, “nakedly hypocritical” since it was originally the former Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) who in 2013 changed the filibuster rule in the Senate to allow presidential confirmation in the Senate to be approved by a simple majority.
“The rule change will make cloture for all nominations other than the Supreme Court—a majority threshold vote, yes or no. The Senate is a living thing, and to survive it must change, as it has over the history of this great country. To the average American, adapting the rules to make the Senate work, again, is just common sense,” Reid said in a speech on the Senate floor in 2013. “This is not about Democrats versus Republicans. This is about making Washington work, regardless of who’s in the White House, or who controls the Senate.”
Then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warned that changing the Senate rule would come to haunt Democrats, later when the GOP is in the majority.
“And get this, they think they can change the rules of the Senate in a way that benefits only them. They want to do it in such a way that President Obama’s agenda gets enacted, but that a future Republican President couldn’t get his or her picks for the Supreme Court confirmed by a Republican Senate using the same precedent our Democratic friends wants to set,” said McConnell in a speech from the Senate floor in 2013.
The Republicans did use the simple majority rule that Reid put in place to confirm three Supreme Court Justices during the Trump administration.
In addition, progressives have been calling for an end to the filibuster so they can pass the Democrats’ legislative agenda with a simple majority of 50 votes which Pelosi hinted would be good to change.
“We wish they do that for a woman’s right to choose, we wish they do that for the climate, we wish they do it for LGBTQ, wish they do it for gun violence protection, the list goes on—up, voting rights, and the rest,” said Pelosi. “That three people are going to have a job for life, who are relatively young, court wise, to make decisions that affect all of us, while we can’t get a bill passed that will enable people not to stand in line for 10 hours to vote.”