Three Democrat members of the House – Jerry Nadler of New York, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee; Hank Johnson of Georgia and Mondaire Jones of New York – and one senator, Ed Markey, of
Expanding the Supreme Court became a rallying cry for progressive lawmakers and groups following the death of
Graham said that proposal was dangerous, and just the opening salvo in what he predicted would be a long battle.
Lindsey Graham on Thursday described the Democrat’s plan as setting a dangerous precedent
Jerry Nadler (left) and Mondaire Jones are leading the push to change the Court in the House
Hank Johnson (left) is also promoting the bill in the House, and Ed Markey in the Senate
‘We live in dangerous times at home and abroad and our friends on the left are really drunk with power right now,’ he told Martha MacCallum on
‘The only reason Nancy Pelosi is not bringing up the court packing bill is that she knows she can’t get it through the Senate because the filibuster still exists.
‘If you want to destroy confidence in the rule of law, do what they’re proposing.’
Graham said that the bill was a slippery slope, and would usher in an era where the composition of the Supreme Court was changed to fit partisan needs.
Joe Biden established a presidential commission to examine expanding the Supreme Court
The number of justices on the Supreme Court is not specified by the Constitution, but has been settled at nine since 1869.
Until 1869, the number regularly fluctuated depending on which political party was in power, and their aims.
Under John Adams there were five: under Abraham Lincoln there were 10.
Biden himself refused to say before the election what his position was. In 1995 described efforts to expand the Supreme Court as ‘boneheaded’.
But, under pressure from progressives within his party, he said last week that he was forming a special commission to investigate the issue.
The formation of a 36-member commission was announced by the White House on April 9.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (front, second from right) opposed increasing the number of justices
The Supreme Court has had nine justices since 1869, but Democrats want to increase it to 13
Graham said it was dangerous to play with the court’s composition.
‘Every time there’s a power shift in Washington, one party takes over from the other, the number of justices change, the makeup of the court changes, it becomes a political institution that will lose respect with the American people,’ he said.
He noted that the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, like Biden, said expanding the court was a bad idea.
‘Justice Ginsberg got this right,’ he said.
He warned that a Pandora’s Box had been opened.
‘This bold, crazy idea I think people will say, ‘What about something a little bit less severe?’
‘The next thing you know, the court as we know it will cease to exist. It will be more of a political body than it’s ever been.’
THE SUPREME COURT, ARTICLE III OF THE CONSTITUTION AND ITS HISTORY
The Supreme Court was established in 1789 by Article Three of the Constitution. President George Washington then signed the Judiciary Act which specified that the court would initially be made up of six justices who would serve until they died or retired.
For the next 80 years, until 1869, Congress altered the number of justices six times from a low of five to a high of 10. But there have been nine serving justices for the last 160 years.
Congress does have the power to change the number of justices, and the Democrats could pass it with slim majorities in both the House and Senate.
Any effort to alter it would be explosive and would attract furious support from both sides of the aisle.
Imposing term limits would likely require a constitutional amendment, though some scholars have proposed ways to accomplish it by statute.
The constitution doesn’t explicitly grant ‘life tenure’, but it is implied from the phrase that they shall ‘hold their offices during good behaviour’.
Democrats have tried to unravel the Supreme Court’s historic traditions with the argument that justice are now serving an average of 28 around years, the longest in history.
In 2020, California Democrat Rep. Ro Khanna introduced a proposal that would establish 18-year limits for Supreme Court Justices, but the bill never materialized.
‘We can’t face a national crisis every time a vacancy occurs on the Supreme Court,’ said Rep. Khanna. ‘No justice should feel the weight of an entire country on their shoulders. No president should be able to shift the ideology of our highest judicial body by mere chance. Most importantly, our country’s top constitutional questions shouldn’t be decided by a panel of jurists who are biding their time until a president of their choice is elected. It’s time to standardize and democratize the Supreme Court.’
Over the last 44 years, Republicans have held the presidency for 24 years and appointed 15 justices. Donald Trump appointed three relatively young conservatives: Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.
Democrats have held the presidency for 20 years and appointed only four justices.
As of January 2021, 115 justices have served on the court..