Democratic lawmakers renew calls to add Supreme Court seats after abortion debate

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The growing push by some Democrats to reshape the Supreme Court rekindled this week as the court heard oral arguments in Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban case, which could potentially limit access to abortion in the United States.

The court heard arguments from Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and legal analysts have suggested that the Conservative majority will abolish decades of precedent after Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that limited government restrictions on abortion. If so, it would open the door for state legislatures to pass laws banning abortions prior to fetal viability.

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Former President Trump appointed three judges who were confirmed by the High Court, moving the membership to six GOP-appointed judges and three Democrats-appointed judges. As a result, Democratic lawmakers have called for removing the filibustering Senate requiring 60 votes to pass legislation to add more seats to the court.

Anti-abortion activist holds doll during protest outside Supreme Court building ahead of arguments in Mississippi abortion rights case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, in Washington on December 1, 2021. (REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst)

Republicans have called efforts to expand the Supreme Court a Democrats’ “judiciary” and political power game.

In light of the arguments in Dobbs this week, Democratic lawmakers are renewing their calls to expand the court and add more liberal judges to offset what they see as partisan GOP gains.

“A ‘conservative’ court would maintain a precedent. But a ‘partisan’ court cannot – and it is perhaps the most partisan court in history,” said Representative Adam Schiff, D-Calif. , in reference to Democratic demands to extend the Supreme Court. “We must protect a woman’s right to choose.”

SUPREME COURT AUDITS ORAL ARGUMENTS IN CASE WHICH COULD VOID ROE C. WADE

Senator Tina Smith, D-Minn., Tweeted on the day of the Supreme Court’s argument in favor of expanding the court in the abortion case.

Representative Judy Chu, D-Calif., Urged Congress to pass the Judicial Act, introduced in the spring, to increase the number of court seats. She claimed in a tweet on Friday that the court had been “manipulated to protect the political objectives of the GOP,” despite the fact that every justice upheld under Trump had gone through the proper constitutional process.

Senator Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., Tweeted Wednesday after oral argument: “9 is not a magic number… Now we have to talk about expanding the court. #ExpandTheCour

In April, Markey and the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, DN.Y., introduced the Judicial Bill of 2021 to increase the number of Supreme Court justices to 13.

“This bill would restore the balance of the nation’s highest court after four years of substandard action by Republicans which led to its current composition and significantly damaged the court’s reputation in the eyes of the American people. “, explained the Democratic lawmakers. “In order for the Court to fulfill its duty to provide justice equal before the law and to protect the rights and well-being of millions of Americans, the law expands the Court to restore balance, integrity and independence.”

Senator Ed Markey, D-Mass., Talks about his legislation to expand the Supreme Court on April 15, 2021.

Senator Ed Markey, D-Mass., Talks about his legislation to expand the Supreme Court on April 15, 2021.

Other Democratic senators have not pledged to support expanding the tribunal, with Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., saying he will not vote to wrap the tribunal or end the filibustering of the Senate .

Likewise, Senator Krysten Sinema, D-Arizona, poured cold water on her colleagues’ press campaign, saying through a spokesperson in October that she opposed an expansion. .

THE SHORT-PACKING POLICY

Early in his presidency, Biden created a commission to study potential changes to the Supreme Court. But, in a blow to progressives, the preliminary report on the future of the tribunal released in November said expanding the size and scope would not strike a balance.

The 203-page draft indicated that “the risks of expansion of the Court are considerable”. The report suggested concepts such as term limits for the Supreme Court, possibly 18-year staggered terms on the tribunal. The panel argued that the idea “would advance our Constitution’s commitments to checks and balances and popular sovereignty.”

A majority of Americans oppose an attempt to stuff the courts by Democrats, according to a poll conducted October 15-18 by the New York Times and Siena College.

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Among likely voters, 58% said Democrats should not seek to increase the size of the Supreme Court. Only 31% said they were in favor of court packing, while 11% of respondents were undecided.

“The public is overwhelmingly against the runaway courts. President Biden has called this a silly idea,” said Jonathan Turley, law professor at George Washington University previously.

Abortion rights activist Alicia Hurt holds a sign during a protest outside the Supreme Court building ahead of arguments in the Mississippi Dobbs abortion rights case against Jackson Women's Health, Washington, DC December 1, 2021. REUTERS / Evelyn Hockstein

Abortion rights activist Alicia Hurt holds a sign during a protest outside the Supreme Court building ahead of arguments in the Mississippi Dobbs abortion rights case against Jackson Women’s Health, Washington, DC December 1, 2021. REUTERS / Evelyn Hockstein

“That hasn’t changed. It’s still a silly idea. But what’s really fascinating to watch is the number of congressmen and law professors saying we have to pack the court because he doesn’t read the Constitution like we read the Constitution, ”Turley said.

“It is fundamentally wrong to wrap the court up and tear down the institutions that protect our rights,” R-Texas Senator Ted Cruz previously said.

Fox News’s Chad Pergram and Sam Dorman contributed to this report.

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