What to Do About the Supreme Court?

Democrats in Congress plan to introduce a bill to expand the SCOTUS from nine to thirteen justices. At the moment this bill has very little chance of going anywhere, but that may not be the point. The Dems may just be attempting to signal the Supremes to watch themselves. (Naturally Nancy Pelosi is being a poopyhead and saying she won’t bring a bill to expand the Court to the House floor.)

At TPM, Kate Riga writes that the Court has been sitting on some abortion cases for a remarkably long time. When Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed last year anti-reproductive rights advocates were certain Roe v. Wade was toast. And, of course, now that I’m blogging about a delay they’ll probably issue some draconian decision tomorrow.

But assuming they don’t, it does begin to look as if something is going on behind closed doors to inject some moderation into them. And I’m betting that something may be all the talk of expanding the Court. Chief Justice John Roberts may not be want to be the Chief Justice who precided over a Court that was so radical it had to be watered down.

Last week President Biden announced he was forming a commission to study Supreme Court reform. “The topics it will examine include the genesis of the reform debate; the Court’s role in the Constitutional system; the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court’s case selection, rules, and practices,” the announcement said. There is no deadline given for the commission’s recommendations. Still, it gives the justices something to think about.

At the moment a bill to expand the Court is unlikely to get around the 60-vote cloture threshold in the Senate. But Paul Waldman writes that maybe the appointment process could be reformed. One suggestion: Give every new POTUS two Supreme Court picks, and let the size of the Court fluctuate, he says.  If a justice dies or retires, the POTUS doesn’t get to make another appointment; he or she just gets two. That would eliminate a lot of the game-playing and drama around Supreme Court picks.

That wouldn’t, however, save us from the current Court’s majority of hyper-conservative religious extremists. See The Supreme Court Is Making New Law in the Shadows in the New York Times.