For over 150 years, the United States Supreme Court has operated with nine justices reviewing and presiding over the critical legal issues of the day. During that time, only one president attempted to alter the Court by adding more judges to the bench. The effort by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1937 drew scathing criticism from Republicans and Democrats; his attempt at “court-packing” was viewed as a threat to the independence of the judiciary. Sadly, some politicians haven’t learned from President Roosevelt’s mistake: court-packing has reared its ugly head yet again.
Some Democrats, upset by the Supreme Court’s current composition, are attempting to make structural changes to the court in an effort to ensure they get the justices they want and the legal outcomes they desire. President Biden recently signed an executive order announcing the creation of a 36-member commission tasked to examine “the role and operation of the Supreme Court,” including its “membership and size.” Sadly, this commission’s creation is not an effort to objectively study the pros or cons of a larger Supreme Court. Instead, it is part of a thinly veiled political campaign designed to build support for court-packing.
Any doubts about the commission’s partisan purpose were put to rest when the Biden administration announced a largely liberal slate of commission members. Just this week, Democratic lawmakers joined the call for expansion, introducing a bill to increase the number of justices from nine to 13. This bill is presented as a call for reform, but its only purpose is to flip a 6-3 majority of Republican-appointed justices to a 7-6 Democratic-dominated bench.