WASHINGTON, DC – The Democrats are engaged in an internal battle over legislation introduced by Progressive members Thursday to expand the Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices.
The move has created a direct challenge to the Democratic President.
— Politic Talks (@politic_talks) April 15, 2021
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have signaled opposition to the Progressives’ move, and sided with the President’s recently established study commission.
Although the idea of expanding of the Supreme Court had been dismissed previously by President Joe Biden, he surprised Republicans last week by issuing an executive order establishing a study to do just that.
On Friday, the President ignored sharp criticism from Republicans and signed the order. A white House statement said:
“The Commission’s purpose is to provide an analysis of the principal arguments in the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform, including an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals.”
You shoulda known the answer was “Hell yes we’re packing the Supreme Court with mutants” back when Biden declined to answer before the election. https://t.co/gUFmfjS7MD
— Ryan Himself 𓅓 (@Ryan_Himself) April 15, 2021
Unwilling to wait for the study, Progressive Democrats are pushing the new legislation as a way to limit the impact of former President Donald Trump’s three appointments during his term. The appointments gave the court a 6-3 tilt to the right.
Even before the bill was introduced, House Speaker Pelosi said she had no intention of bringing the bill to the floor for consideration. As Speaker of the House, Pelosi controls what legislation can be forwarded to the body for consideration and vote.
The bill is sponsored by Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee. It is co-sponsored by Democratic Reps. Hank Johnson of Georgia and Mondaire Jones of New York.
— BUILDONTHEROCK (@rockstability) April 15, 2021
Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) commented on the expansion plan outside of the Supreme Court on Thursday:
“(The court) is out of balance, and it needs to be fixed. Too many Americans have lost faith in the court as a neutral arbiter of the most important constitutional and legal questions that arise in our judicial system.”
Speaker Pelosi said that she agreed the issue should be studied, but did not support the legislation forwarded:
“I don’t know that that’s a good idea or bad idea. I think it’s an idea that should be considered and I think the president’s taking the right approach to have a commission to study such a thing. I have no plans to bring it to the floor.”
— Virginia (@Virgini10053372) April 15, 2021
During the election, President Biden refused to say whether he agreed with the idea of court-packing, stating he would only announce his position after the votes were cast:
“You’ll know my opinion on court-packing when the election is over. It’s a great question, and I don’t blame you for asking. But you know, the moment I answer that question, the headline in every one of your papers will be on the answer to that question.”
However, in October 2020, he said he would put together a “bipartisan commission” to address the Supreme Court “because it’s getting out of whack.”
Pelosi is backing the Biden Commission before rining any court-packing legislation to the floor.
— iVoteArizona™ (@iVoteArizona) April 15, 2021
The commission established last week did not meet the “bipartisan” promise, as Biden’s appointees included leftist Democrats and legal scholars, and a few Republicans who were anti-Trump.
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The Supreme Court has been made up of 9 justices for more than 150 years. Although no number is set by the United States Constitution, President Franklin Roosevelt attempted to pack the court in the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937, frequently called the “court-packing plan.” The failed attempt was designed to help him push through his New Deal legislation.
In 1983, as a U.S. Senator, Biden was in a disagreement with Republican President Ronald Reagan during debate over whether to allow the President to replace members of the Commission on Civil Rights. Biden opposed the nominated commissioners not because he viewed them as unqualified, but because he thought Reagan’s takeover of the commission would damage its legitimacy.
Packing the court is taking away from the impartiality that the court was intended to have. The Socialists in Congress have little regard for the Constitution!https://t.co/xHoeYbr57F
— Daniel Burton Jr. (@BurtonForPA) April 15, 2021
Biden compared Reagan’s actions to Roosevelts attempt to pack the court, which he called a “terrible, terrible mistake”:
“President Roosevelt clearly had the right to send to the United States Senate and the United States Congress a proposal to pack the Court,” Biden said during the hearing. “It was totally within his right to do that—he violated no law, he was legalistically absolutely correct.
“But it was a bonehead idea. It was a terrible, terrible mistake to make, and it put in question, for an entire decade, the independence of the most significant body—including the Congress in my view—the most significant body in this country, the Supreme Court of the United States of America.”
One odd thing about this is that it continues to implement a 2/3 quorum rule (6/9->8/12). The quorum probably should just be a majority of the Court, as most quorum rules provide.#CourtPacking #SCOTUS
(I wrote about this here in @CalifLRev Online: https://t.co/BqK6GjxlGE) https://t.co/hXwebIQ3fQ
— Guha Krishnamurthi (@GGKrishnamoomoo) April 15, 2021
The move by the Progressives of introducing the legislation on Thursday was a slight to President Biden by by-passing his commission.
Sen. Markey said that the Progressive Democrats were operating separate from the President:
“(President Biden) is operating on a separate track, and we await his commission, but we don’t wait for the introduction of the solution.”
Rep. Jones said the commission was flawed because it had no instruction to make a recommendation on its findings:
“The damage has already been done, we don’t need a commission to tell us that we need to restore balance to the court.”
#CourtPacking Recalcitrance: By Edwin Vazquez – Joe Biden signed executive order (EO 14023) on April 9, 2021, which establishes a “#Commission on #theSupremeCourtoftheUnitedStates.” Biden has signed a total of 39 executive orders so far per federal… https://t.co/hB9hpkSKKO pic.twitter.com/00H85zPft0
— Rich Mitchell (@CDNnow) April 15, 2021
Several prominent Democrats opposed the move, siding with the President. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, said he wanted to follow President Biden’s plan:
“I’m not ready to sign on (the new legislation) yet. I think this commission of Biden is the right move. Let’s think this through carefully. This is historic.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has warned Democrats not to pack the court:
“There is nothing about the structure or operation of the judicial branch that requires ‘study.’
“President Biden campaigned on a promise of lowering the temperature and uniting a divided nation. If he really meant it, he would stop giving oxygen to a dangerous, antiquated idea and stand up to the partisans hawking it.”
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Author: Scott A. Davis