UPDATED 11:35 AM PT – Friday, February 26, 2021
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) re-introduced legislation to keep the Supreme Court at nine justices. On Thursday, Cruz said Democrats were “brazenly” discussing plans to pack the court and his bill will help protect the court’s independence.
The proposal would prevent Congress from adding more justices to the high court. It drew support from top GOP members like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.). Republicans previously introduced the legislation back in October 2020, following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and after Democrats began to rally on the notion of court packing.
That same month, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted “expand the court” on her page. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) also said every option should be on the table to restore the Supreme Court’s credibility.
Additionally, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said “Democrats must end the filibuster and pass legislation to expand the court.” In a recent interview with MSNBC, he reiterated his goal to pack lower district courts and said he is awaiting a new commission report from Joe Biden before pursuing more justices.
“Now as for the Supreme Court, that’s the big one,” Schumer stated. “And [Biden] has put together this commission to come up with a report in 180 days. We’re gonna see what that commission says and go from there.”
Biden previously opposed any moves to expand the Supreme Court, but has since created a bipartisan commission to study reforms on the courts. Eric Holder, the former attorney general for Barack Obama, accused the Supreme Court of being stagnant and failing to progress with the times. He said the Biden administration should use its power in Democrats’ favor.
“Except for a limited period of times, in a limited number of cases, the Supreme Court has tended to defend status quo,” Holder noted. “Sometimes in a way that is inimical to our founding ideals. You know, as we enter the beginning of the Biden administration, I think we should be frank about where we are right now. Democrats and progressives must use the power that they now have.”
In the meantime, critics of court packing said the move could set a dangerous precedent moving forward, signaling that a political party could switch out justices when they’re in power. Cruz said his bill will prevent either party from “wielding the Supreme Court as a political tool for their own advantage.”