Pelosi made the revelation while during her weekly press conference, offering a stark “No” after being asked about the measure being introduced to expand the nation’s highest bench.
“I support the president’s commission to study a such a proposal,” she continued, going on to say that she and her members were focused on President Biden’s infrastructure package and not the federal judiciary.
From left, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Rep. Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y., hold a news conference outside the Supreme Court to announce legislation to expand the number of seats on the high court. ~AP
“It’s not out of the question, it has been done before,” she went on to say, noting that “the history of our country a long time ago, and the growth of our country, the size of our country, the growth of our challenges in terms of the economy, etc. might necessitate such a thing.”
As for now, however, Pelosi is only backing the commission.
As for whether she would eventually support packing the court, Pelosi said the jury was still out on the matter.
“I don’t know that that’s a good idea or a bad idea. I think it’s an idea that to be considered. And I think the president’s taking the right approach to, to have the commission to study such a thing,” the top-ranking House Democrat said, calling Biden’s move itself “a big step.”
Security is tight around the US Supreme Court and the US Capitol building in Washington, DC. The Washington Post via Getty Images
“I have no plans to bring it to the floor,” she said.
Asked about the proposal Thursday on Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) offered similar sentiments to Pelosi.
“I’m not ready to sign on yet,” the No. 2 Senate Democrat told reporters, “I think this commission of Biden is the right move.
“Let’s think this through carefully. This is historic.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), along with Reps. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Mondaire Jones (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), formally unveiled their legislation in a press conference outside the Supreme Court on Thursday, and will introduce it in the House in the afternoon.
Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) slammed the legislation when reached by The Post after it was introduced, saying, “This is a system that has worked well for a long time. Changing it based on party control is not a good practice.”
During the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, Biden said multiple times he did not support packing the court, vowing in an interview with Iowa Starting Line that Democrats would “live to rue that day.”
During a primary debate, the then-Democratic front-runner warned that adding more justices to the nation’s highest bench was capable of backfiring.
“I would not get into court packing. We add three justices. Next time around, we lose control, they add three justices. We begin to lose any credibility the court has at all,” he argued.
Facing pressure from the left following a few months in office, however, Biden signed an executive order last week creating a commission to look into the matter.
The commission would be “comprised of a bipartisan group of experts on the Court and the Court reform debate,” the White House said at the time.
Speaking to Fox News Thursday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) warned that court-packing would mark “the end of the Supreme Court’s legitimacy and he end of the rule of law in America.”
“One reason that we respect the rule of law is that our constitution created independent judiciary to protect the rights of Americans, and to create a final tribunal and that tribunal makes its decisions in accordance with the law and the statute, the statutes and previous cases,” he explained. “But if the Democrats simply want to expand the court to add four new liberal justices, because that’s the current deficit they would need to make up to get democratic appointed justices and control the committee, the court will lose all legitimacy.”
Cotton referenced Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who warned last week against packing the court as a way to undo the current conservative majority.
Speaking at a Harvard Law School lecture, Breyer said that expanding the court could undermine “the trust that the court has gradually built.”
“What I’m trying to do is to make those whose instincts may favor important structural change or other similar institutional changes such as forms of court packing to think long and hard before they embody those changes in law,” Breyer said.
Breyer is not the only liberal justice who opposes the idea. The late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said before her death that she did not support expanding the bench beyond nine.