(tca/dpa) – A pair of New York congressmen are among a group of Democrats who plan to introduce a bill that would add four seats to the Supreme Court — the opening salvo in what promises to be a brutal legislative fight with conservatives over the high bench’s political balance.
Representative Jerry Nadler, who chairs the powerful House Judiciary Committee, and Representative Mondaire Jones will announce the bill at a press conference outside the Supreme Court on Thursday, according to their offices.
Nadler and Jones will be joined by Georgia Representative Hank Jones, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee’s subpanel on courts, and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey in announcing the high-stakes measure, which is formally called the Judiciary Act of 2021.
The Supreme Court, currently dominated 6-3 by conservative-leaning justices, could have its political balance flipped on its head if President Joe Biden gets the opportunity to appoint four new members.
Jones, a progressive freshman who sits on the Judiciary Committee and represents Westchester and Rockland Counties, said recent rulings on voting rights show that stripping conservatives of their Supreme Court majority is a matter of protecting democracy.
“Our democracy is hanging by a thread. And the far-right majority on the U.S. Supreme Court is cutting it,” Jones told the Daily News on Wednesday.
“From Citizens United to Shelby County to Rucho, the majority’s doctrine is clear: If a law suppresses the right to vote, it is constitutional. If a law protects the right to vote, especially for Black and brown voters, it is unconstitutional. The American people have had enough.”
Biden was tight-lipped on the idea of expanding the Supreme Court throughout the 2020 campaign.
But he signaled openness to the concept when he issued an executive order last week establishing a commission to study the idea. The commission, made up of legal scholars and former federal judges, is expected to produce a report for Biden on the issue by this fall.
The Supreme Court bill to be introduced Thursday is going to face an uphill battle in Congress.
Republicans have blasted the push for Supreme Court expansion as an attempted partisan power grab by Democrats.
“This is not some new, serious, or sober pivot away from Democrats’ political attacks on the Court. It’s just an attempt to clothe those ongoing attacks in fake legitimacy,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said after Biden’s commission announcement.
McConnell’s criticism came in spite of the fact that he rushed to confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett a few days before the 2020 election in violation of his own past principle of not filling Supreme Court vacancies in an election year.