The Democrats have put forward a bill to add four seats to the Supreme Court

By Jonathon Van Maren

It’s happening: The Democrats are making a play for total, one-party rule with a proposal to pack the U.S. Supreme Court, adding four seats. Vox didn’t even attempt to hide the motive for this, reporting that: “A new bill would add four seats to the Supreme Court, giving Democratic appointees a 7-6 majority.” The Judiciary Act of 2021, which will be introduced by Reps. Jerrold Nadler, Hank Johnson, Mondaire Jones and Senator Ed Markey, would permit Joe Biden to immediately name an additional four justices to the Court.

According to Vox, the bill’s passage isn’t a sure thing:

Realistically, the bill is unlikely to pass anytime soon. Until recently, adding seats to the Supreme Court was considered a very radical tactic — President Franklin Roosevelt proposed similar legislation in 1937, and it did not end well for him. President Biden has in the past expressed reluctance to add seats to the Court.

I’m not so optimistic—Joe Biden is, at this point, in thrall to the radical wing of the Democratic Party, and has already set up a commission to examine the Supreme Court. It seems obvious that the point of this is to produce the justification for court-packing. The Joe Biden of 2021 is constantly doing things that previous Joe Bidens would have condemned, so I suspect that the only reason court-packing would be pushed aside is if the Dems calculate that the backlash will hurt them too badly.

Jim Geraghty has a good analysis of this attempt over at National Review for anyone interested in the political intricacies, but I suspect there may be something else at play here. This legislation could be intended as a time bomb—a not-so-veiled threat to the current Supreme Court justices that if they should hand down a ruling that the Democrats don’t like—such as overturning or further hollowing out Roe v. Wade, for example, the number of Dems supporting the bill could suddenly turn from a minority into a majority.

In short, the very threat of court-packing is a gun on the table. The Democrats have it loaded; we’ll find out whether or not they pull the trigger. If they do, I have no doubt that Biden will be behind them.

2 thoughts on “The Democrats have put forward a bill to add four seats to the Supreme Court

  1. Navi says:

    Threatening to pack the court in order to ensure an abortion-friendly ruling would be much worse than actual court-packing in my view. If this goes through, Republicans can pack the court themselves when the opportunity arises. Or, red states can just deny the expanded court’s legitimacy and enforce all of their pro-life laws. But if the judges let the politicians force their hand in order to prevent court-packing, the Supreme Court maintains its perceived legitimacy but we get another 30+ years of Roe v. Wade. That would be the worst possible outcome.

    The bill is dead on arrival unless Democrats can nuke the filibuster, but Joe Manchin clearly means it when he says that’s not going to happen. He is also opposed to court-packing itself. Finally, Kyrsten Sinema (who is more of a quirky maverick than a true moderate) has also ruled out the nuclear option. There are probably others that secretly oppose it. The threat is not credible. Hopefully the justices are smart enough to see that, and have enough integrity to call the Democrats on their bluff.

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