(Local CBS) – The new law was introduced on Thursday by a group House and Senate Democrats call for an expansion of the US Supreme Court from nine current judges to 13. The group said the Justice Act of 2021 would “restore the balance of the courts” after former President Donald Trump nominated replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg last September. . Republican Party, according to CBS News, is expected to “fiercely oppose” the bill, calling on Democrats to “pack to court”.
“Democrats seem so drunk with power in Washington that they’re going to try it again and I think it’s really regrettable,” Steve Chabot of the Ohio Republican Party told CBS News. “I think it could separate this country.”
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy said in a tweet Thursday morning that the bill goes against “everything we believe as Americans.”
Court packing goes against all we believe to be Americans.
But make no mistake: this is about power and control. Democrats want to dismantle our institutions, including the courts, to enact their socialist agendas. pic.twitter.com/91tpZ9UZEN
– Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) April 15, 2021
The court’s term packing appeared several times during the November election and President Biden said after stopping the Cincinnati campaign in October that he “Not a fan“Of idea. But, the authorities generated a commission by the operator action Last week was assigned the Supreme Court reform research task that included the number of judges on the court.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said after the bill was introduced that she has no plans to put it on the floor. The speaker said that the White House committee researching the Supreme Court is the right course of action for determining how reform might happen. But, that didn’t stop the conversation from continuing.
So what exactly is court packing? Has it been done before?
Let’s take a look at those questions.
What exactly is court packing?
“I think people really mean a bunch of other things,” said Nicole Hemmer, an historian who is currently a research scholar associated with President Obama’s Oral History project at Columbia University. together. in an interview with CBS Local’s Ryan Mayer in October of last year. “However, the main reference is the idea of cramming the court into those who agree with you ideologically or politically.”
The Supreme Court currently has nine judges, but that number is not regulated by the Constitution. Instead, the Constitution only stipulates that the Chief Justice presides over any impeachment trial. The size of the courts has not changed in the past 151 years. However, it ranged from 5 to 10 judges during its first 80 years of existence.
“During most of the 19th century, the Supreme Court changed. From a low of five members to a high of ten, it finally resolved to nine by the end of the 19th century, ”says Hemmer. “But, Congress has this ability to add or remove members from the Court. For a long time, it was linked to the number of federal courts. If we still do that, we will have 13 Supreme Court justices because we have 13 federal courts. “
That last point is the point that Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler, who co-sponsored the new bill, noted as a key reason for introducing the new law.
“Nine justices could make sense in the 19th century when there were only nine of our most important federal laws and many of our most important federal laws – including everything from civil rights, to antitrust, internet, governing key, healthcare, immigration and white collar According to Mr. Nadler, crime – simply does not exist, and does not require the trial of the Supreme Court. The New York Times. “But the logic behind having only nine judges today is much weaker, having 13 circuits.”
The severity of that relationship between the number of judges and the number of federal courts occurred in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when the requirements for circulating judges were completely over. stop. So, where did the term court packaging come from? A concrete historical precedent.
“It really dates back to 1937 when Franklin Roosevelt, tired of a conservative court’s return to the New Deal law, proposed adding a bunch of new justices to the Supreme Court so he could have,” Hemmer said. get the majority of freedom. “Most of the time, when people say court packed, they’re trying to point out that very politically unpopular moment.”
Roosevelt, looking for more favorable rulings when it comes to his law, has proposed the idea of 15 justices in court. That, however, met with a quick backlash and voted down 70-20 in the Senate.
Has The Court Packing Been Done Before?
Court packing, no. Open court, yes. Original Supreme Court, founded by Judicial Act of 1789, forming a court of six judges.
In 1807, Congress created Seventh circuit to serve the Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee areas. With that is the seventh justice on the Supreme Court. After another 30 years, in 1837, with the addition of eight new western states to the union, two circuit courts were added, then bringing the total to nine judges where it resides today.
Those changes to the court, are out of one special case noteworthyMost are generated to coincide with new states and thus new circuits are added. However, the conversation about the court changed over time with some landmark court decisions.
“When the courts become a thought firm in America and get recognized like that, things like Brown suing the Board of Education are a really important moment,” says Hemmer. “School prayer, privacy, abortion, criminal justice rulings have more attention to the ideological composition of the court. That’s where you start having very serious battles against the Court itself. “
The current conversation stems from what has been seen as the court’s imbalance following a pair of judges nominated by former president Trump during his tenure. It began in 2016 when President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill a vacancy in the Supreme Court passed by justice Antonin Scalia.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, however, refused to hold hearings to confirm Garland. say, “Of course, the American people should have a say in the direction of the court. It is the president’s constitutional right to nominate justices of the Supreme Court, and it is the constitutional right of the Senate to act as a check against the president and withhold the presidential consent. “
When President Trump won the 2016 election, he nominated Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was later confirmed by a vote of predominantly 54-45 party with only Democrats Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Donnelly voted to confirm.
In late September 2020, then-President Trump quickly acted to nominate Justice’s replacement Ruth Bader Ginsburg after her death. Democrats argued the nomination was hypocritical, pointing to leader McConnell’s earlier comments about Americans having a voice in the court’s direction. Amy Coney Barrett, confirmed with the court at the end of October, seems to have tilted the balance to a conservative 6-3 majority.
Democratic Representative David Cicilline noted to CBS News pointing out the actions were evidence that the Republicans were indeed “court-packed”.
“The court packers were Republicans, who squeezed in among the candidates and refused to consider Merrick Garland,” said Cicilline.
Ultimately, the new bill will have to go through the same process as any law put in Congress. It would need to be approved by both the House and Senate by a majority of 2/3 votes before being signed into law by the president. That seems unlikely because many Republicans have expressed opposition to the bill making it difficult to find enough votes for it to pass.