Dems bill to expand Supreme Court gets tepid reaction

SEN. ED MARKEY: “The Republicans stole two seats on the Supreme Court and now it is up to us to repair that damage.”

A group of liberal Democratic lawmakers on Thursday proposed expanding the U.S. Supreme Court by four justices - aiming to end its conservative majority, but the plan is drawing an unenthusiastic response from some top Democrats and has been denounced by Republicans.

Senator Ed Markey along with House members like Jerrold Nadler and Hank Johnson is leading the effort, after former Republican President Donald Trump appointed three justices during his four years in office.

SEN. ED MARKEY: “The way we repair it is straight-forward. We undue the damage that Republicans have done by restoring balance and we do it by adding 4 seats to the court to create a 13-member supreme court, these 4 new seats to be filled by President Biden will reconstitute the United States Supreme Court. The bench will rightfully reflect the values of the majority of the American people on who’s behalf they serve. Expanding the court is constitutional, Congress has done it before and Congress must do it again.”

Democrats have accused Republicans of "stealing" a Supreme Court seat in 2016, when the then Republican-controlled Senate refused to consider Democratic President Barack Obama's election-year Supreme Court nominee to fill a vacancy left by the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.

A year later, Trump was able to fill the vacancy with a conservative jurist.

Democrats accused Republicans of hypocrisy last year when the Senate quickly confirmed Trump's appointment of conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett a week before the presidential election after the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

REP. JERROLD NADLER: “Some people say we are packing the Court. We are not packing the Court. We are unpacking it. McConnell and Republicans packed the Court.”

But for now, the measure appears to lack the support of the party leaders.

Democratic President Joe Biden last week established a bipartisan commission to study potential Supreme Court changes, including expansion or imposing term limits on the justices instead of the current lifetime appointments.

And on Thursday, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed reservations to the Democrats’ efforts and said she has no plans to bring the bill to the floor.

“I don’t know if that’s a good idea or bad idea. I think it’s an idea that should be considered and I think the president is taking the right approach to have a commission to study such a thing, it’s a big step.”

The number of Supreme Court justices has remained at nine since 1869. Congress has the power to change the number and has done so several times.