House Democrats unhappy with the current ideological makeup of the Supreme Court are pushing legislation that would expand the high court and make room for new liberal justices.
In a press conference Monday, eight Democratic lawmakers called on Congress to take up a bill that would add four new seats to the Supreme Court. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), lead sponsor of the proposed legislation, claimed that the court was “at crisis with itself and with our democracy” and was attacking “basic freedoms.”
“It’s making decisions that usurp the power of the legislative and executive branches,” he added.
Much of the lawmakers’ dissatisfaction centered around the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 abortion case. In June, the court ruled to reverse Roe, denying a constitutional right to abortion and leaving the issue up to the states.
Democrats present at the press conference also denounced the court’s recent ruling on gun rights, in which justices struck down a New York gun law that had restricted concealed carry permits in the state.
For Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY), these decisions were the clear workings of a “far-right majority” delivered by “GOP court-packing.”
“The nightmare scenario of GOP court-packing is already upon us,” Jones said. “That’s how they got this far-right majority in the first place.”
A large part of the Supreme Court’s current ideological makeup stems from former President Donald Trump’s additions to the court. During his presidency, Trump was able to nominate three justices to the court: Neil Gorsuch, who replaced the late Antonin Scalia, Brett Kavanaugh, who replaced the retired Anthony Kennedy, and Amy Coney Barrett, who replaced the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The House Democrats’ proposed legislation is unlikely to pass Congress, where nearly all Republicans — and even some Democrats — oppose the bill. To overcome a potential filibuster in the Senate, Democrats would need the the support of 10 Republicans.
Despite the bill’s unlikely path to fruition, supportive Democrats insisted on the necessity of passing the legislation. “It’s an ultra-right-wing Republican Supreme Court,” said Johnson, the bill’s lead sponsor. “It is a Supreme Court where basic freedoms are under assault.”