Congressional Democrats, led by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), unveiled legislation Thursday to expand the US Supreme Court
The legislation, entitled “Judiciary Act of 2021,” seeks to amend 28 USC §1, which currently says “The Supreme Court of the United States shall consist of a Chief Justice of the United States and eight associate justices, any six of whom shall constitute a quorum.” Under the proposed amendment, §1 would say that the court should consist of “a Chief Justice of the United States and twelve associate justices, any eight of whom shall constitute a quorum,” thereby expanding the Supreme Court to 13 justices.
Markey stated that the worst damage Donald Trump did during his presidency was his appointment of three Supreme Court justices, including Justice Amy Coney Barret last year. This legislation, he believes, “will restore the Court’s balance and public standing and begin to repair the damage done to our judiciary and democracy, and we should abolish the filibuster to ensure we can pass it.”
Nadler added that nine justices worked in the 19th century when there were only nine circuit courts in the US. However, “[t]hirteen justices for thirteen circuits is a sensible progression, and I am pleased to join my colleagues in introducing the Judiciary Act of 2021.”
The move follows President Joe Biden’s announcement last week of a bipartisan commission to examine the Supreme Court and determine “the merits and legality of particular reform proposals.”
Biden’s commission will present its completed report Biden within 180 days. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that she has no plans to bring the legislation to a vote on the House floor.