Democrats are pushing for new legislation to raise the number of Supreme Court Justices from nine to thirteen, and while the bill has no chance of getting past the filibuster, it's a big blue marker that the Biden-era Dems are laying down. The real fight comes after the bill.
Four Democratic members of Congress plan to introduce legislation that would add four seats to the Supreme Court, which would, if passed, allow President Biden to immediately name four individuals to fill those seats and give Democrats a 7-6 majority.
The bill, which is being introduced by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Hank Johnson (D-GA), and Mondaire Jones (D-NY) in the House and by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) in the Senate, is called the Judiciary Act of 2021, and it is very brief. It amends a provision of federal law providing that the Supreme Court consist of a chief justice and eight associate justices to read that the Court shall consist of ‘‘a Chief Justice of the United States and twelve associate justices, any eight of whom shall constitute a quorum.”
Although the Constitution provides that there must be a Supreme Court, it leaves the question of how many justices shall sit on that Court to Congress. Under the Judiciary Act of 1789, the Court originally had six seats, and it briefly had 10 seats under President Lincoln.
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.
But the politics of Supreme Court reform have moved very quickly in recent years, and it’s possible to imagine a critical mass of lawmakers rallying behind Court expansion if a majority of the current justices hand down decisions that are likely to outrage Democrats, such as a decision neutralizing what remains of the Voting Rights Act.
The new court-expansion bill would effectively neutralize a half-decade of work by Republicans to manipulate the Senate confirmation process in order to ensure GOP control of the nation’s highest Court.
So-called "moderate" Senate Republicans don't like being powerless. They particularly don't like that Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is doing a better and more efficient job of playing the concern troll but voting with our side in the end role than they ever could. But this is something they know they can block.
The question is what happens now?
Most likely, nothing. No Republican is going to allow this to pass when they could stop it. But it does become a hell of a negotiation starting point, doesn't it?