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It’s become one of the biggest hot button topics on the campaign trail — packing the Supreme Court. But now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is taking it a step further suggesting to pack District Courts as well.
The top Democrat has said she thinks the size of the Supreme Court needs to be re-evaluated given the expansion of the U.S. population in the last 150 years.
Following the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court Monday, Pelosi sided with presidential candidate Joe Biden’s latest suggestion on “reforming” the high court and district court system.
“Not just the Supreme Courts, but the other courts,” Pelosi told MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes Monday night. “In 1876 there were nine justices on the court. Our population has grown enormously since then.”
“Should we expand the court?” Pelosi asked. Adding, “Well let’s take a look and see.”
Pelosi’s comments followed remarks made by Biden during a campaign event Monday, where he suggested reforming the courts. Biden said that “Constitutional scholars” have suggested Supreme Court justices actually shift to the lower court rather than remaining permanent fixtures of the high court’s judicial system.
“If elected, what I will do is I’ll put together a national commission, a bipartisan commission of scholars, constitutional scholars, Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives,” Biden said. “I will ask them to, over 180 days, come back to me with recommendations as to how to reform the court system because it’s getting out of whack.”
The proposal is the first suggestion outside of “court packing” made by Democratic leadership to address Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation.
President Trump’s third appointment to the Supreme Court followed the death of the iconic justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and drew much condemnation from congressional Democrats who believed rushing an appointment to the high court within six weeks of a general election, was an abuse of power.
Though Supreme Court justices are supposed to remain nonpartisan in their judicial role, their interpretation of the Constitution tends to align with the White House’s political party at the time of their appointment.
There are currently six Supreme Court justices that have been appointed under Republican administrations, while only three justices were confirmed under Democratic presidents – drawing concerns from Democratic officials of a political imbalance that is not reflective of the general public.
“This court is illegitimate, and must not be allowed to wreak misery on millions of Americans in service of a far-right minority and their corporate backers,” read a letter signed by 21 elected New York state officials sent to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “Congressional Democrats must end the filibuster and pass legislation to expand the court. Should he win, Joe Biden must sign it into law.”
Democrats have pointed to what they believe is the hypocrisy of the GOP party after Senate Republicans refused to move forward with the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland in March 2016 by President Obama, citing concerns over appointing a justice during an election year.
Several members of the Democratic Party have threatened to “pack the court” should they take control of the Senate following the November general election.
Democrats would have to add four additional justices in order to “pack the court” should Biden win the presidency.
Biden has remained tight-lipped on his stance on “court packing” and has chosen instead to construct a commission that would advise him on how to approach the Supreme Court if he wins, come Nov. 3.
“They’re in this ivory tower,” Pelosi said. “One branch of government appointed the other branch of government with the acquiescence – not only the acquiescence but with the bully actions of the Senate of the United States.”
“It’s appalling,” the speaker added.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, has dismissed the Democrats frustration and said their calls for court reform were “long-standing threats.”
“They may have ratcheted up a little bit lately, but this isn’t anything new,” McConnell said. “They’ve been promising to blow up the Senate by changing the filibuster rule, admitting two new states — [Washington] D.C. and Puerto Rico — to give them four new Democratic senators…they were talking about that earlier in the year. Nothing new, same old threats and intimidation by the hard left.”
Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.