The bill is led by House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler, Subcommittee chair Hank Johnson, and freshman Rep. Mondaire Jones. Hank Johnson of Georgia and Mondaire Jones of NY, are also sponsoring the measure.
"This bill marks a new era where Democrats finally stop conceding the Supreme Court to Republicans", said Brian Fallon, a former Senate Democratic leadership aide and a co-founder of Demand Justice, who described the court as "broken and in need of reform".
Less than a week after President Joe Biden ordered a bipartisan commission on Supreme Court reform, a quartet of influential Democrats introduced a bill proposing the solution favored by the party's left flank: expanding the number of justices. Senator Ed Markey is reportedly supporting it as well.
"Republicans stole the Court's majority, with Justice Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation completing their crime spree", Markey said in a statement. Democrats and liberal activists say this ensures the high court will strike down nearly any legal challenge to the Biden administration's legislative priorities. Following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death last fall and the subsequent appointment of former President Donald Trump's pick, Amy Coney Barret, three Democrat-appointed justices remain on the court. Trump also appointed Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the court following the retirement in 2018 of Anthony Kennedy. "Progressives understand we can not afford to wait six months for an academic study to tell us what we already know: the Supreme Court is broken and in need of reform", Demand Justice Executive Director Brian Fallon said in a statement. "It is out of balance, and it needs to be fixed", Markey said at the news conference.
Republicans were scathing in their response to the measure.
Unsurprisingly, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on April 13 said the Democrats' attempt to spin unrelated infrastructure items into an infrastructure bill was a tactic to change the English language. But the bill has a grim future even without GOP opposition.
The House speaker added: "I support the president's commission to study such a proposal".
Last week, Biden announced the formation of a commission consisting of liberal and conservative voices to study the structure of the Supreme Court, including length of service and number of justices. The announcement marked the culmination of a campaign promise Biden made when repeatedly pressed on whether he would expand the Supreme Court to pack it with justices more aligned with his worldview.
The Supreme Court can be expanded by an act of Congress, but the legislation is highly unlikely to become law in the near future given Democrats' slim majorities, which include scores of lawmakers who are not on board with the idea.