WASHINGTON — Democrats will introduce a bill to expand the Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices, Rep. Mondaire Jones said Wednesday night.
Jones, D-N.Y., said in a tweet that he is introducing the Judiciary Act of 2021 with Reps. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and Hank Johnson, D-Ga., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.
“Our democracy is under assault, and the Supreme Court has dealt the sharpest blows,” he wrote. “To restore power to the people, we must #ExpandTheCourt.”
Nadler, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said during a Wednesday meeting of the committee that an announcement would be made Thursday.
The move comes less than a week after President Joe Biden unveiled plans for a bipartisan commission to study possible changes at the Supreme Court.
More:Three Supreme Court justices tackle U.S. partisan divisions in public remarks
The proposal to expand the court came up Wednesday night during a long-anticipated Judiciary Committee hearing on a bill to examine reparations for the descendants of slaves.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, interrupted a spirited back and forth between committee members about H.R. 40 to ask about
a report by The Intercept on congressional Democratic plan to introduce a bill to expand the size of the Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices. The Ohio congressman used his speaking time to ask Democrats in the room to confirm the story.
Other Republicans followed suit and spoke about the potential for “court packing.”
It soon led to a request for an amendment denouncing an increase in the size of the court.
“The amendment says any appeal should be heard and decided by a chief justice and eight associate justices,” Nadler said. “This bill is not the proper forum for debating this subject.”
“You guys are going to do it. You’re going to do it. And it is scary, and it is wrong, and the country understands that,” Jordan said.
More:Supreme Court leaves major conservative cases waiting in the wings, from abortion to guns
Nadler eventually allowed a vote on the amendment, but it did not gain enough votes for approval.
The committee voted to advance H.R. 40, legislation dating back to 1989 that would establish a committee to study reparations for unpaid slave labor, to the full House.
The push for change at the Supreme Court, where conservatives now have a 6-3 advantage, has put a squeeze on the White House. Throughout the campaign, Biden hedged when asked whether he supported expanding the court, though he allowed in October that he was “not a fan of court-packing.”
‘Think long and hard’:Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer pushes back on ‘court-packing’
Progressive groups have been pushing for a number of ideas other than increasing the number of justices. Those include term limits, set perhaps to 18 years; a code of ethics; a more formal process for recusals; and an expansion of lower courts, not only to offset the barrage of Trump appointees but also to deal with growing caseloads.
However, legislation to expand the Supreme Court would face an uphill battle in the evenly divided Senate.
Contributing: John Fritze