A group of House Democrats is expected to announce a bill on Thursday that seeks to add four more seats to the U.S. Supreme Court, expanding it from nine to 13 justices.
The planned move comes as public debate on whether there is need to reform the court reached a crescendo after former President Donald Trump nominated then-Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the bench. Barrett was nominated to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg following Ginsburg’s death and was eventually confirmed by the GOP-led Senate last year.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden signed an executive order forming a commission to study possible reforms to the nation’s top court, including proposals to expand the court.
The panel will consist of former federal judges and lawyers who have argued in front of the Supreme Court, as well as “advocates for the reform of democratic institutions and of the administration of justice,” the White House stated. “The expertise represented on the commission includes constitutional law, history, and political science.”
The panel created by Biden will be led by Bob Bauer, who served as White House counsel for former President Barack Obama, and Yale Law School professor Cristina Rodriguez, who served as deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel in the Obama administration.
Biden presented the idea of the commission as an alternative to “court-packing” efforts.
While the Supreme Court and federal judiciary are set up according to the Constitution, it also gives Congress the authority to pass laws to set up the judicial branch, including how many justices sit in the top court.
Republican lawmakers have opposed efforts to expand the Supreme Court and introduced their own legislature measures to prevent Democrats from changing the number of seats on the bench. The most recent proposal was announced on April 13 by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), who introduced a constitutional amendment to limit the number of Supreme Court justices to nine.
“The Supreme Court has been comprised of nine justices for more than 150 years, and it’s time we amend the Constitution to make this longstanding precedent permanent before it’s too late.”
The bar to amend the Constitution is very high as it requires two-thirds of the House and Senate to approve the text of the amendment and then three-quarters of the states to ratify the amendment.
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who is described as a liberal-leaning member of the bench, has warned against expanding the number of seats on the court.
“If the public sees judges as politicians in robes, its confidence in the courts and in the rule of law can only diminish, diminishing the court’s power, including its power to act as a check on other branches.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times.