Senator Markey, Chairs Nadler and Johnson, and Rep. Jones Statement on White House Supreme Court Commission Draft Materials
Lawmakers’ Judiciary Act would expand the Supreme Court from 9 to 13 justices
Washington, October 14, 2021
Washington, D.C. – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Hank Johnson (GA-04), and Representative Mondaire Jones (NY-17) released the following statement after the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States released its initial draft materials today.
“The White House Commission on the Supreme Court ‘draft’ misses the mark. After years of Republicans upending precedent, breaking their own rules, and stealing seats on the Supreme Court, we must restore legitimacy and integrity to the Court and undo the damage Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell have inflicted on our democracy,” said the lawmakers in a joint statement. “The GOP’s rigged bench is contorting our laws and issuing decisions that do not reflect, understand, or serve the people the Court is meant to represent. Voting rights, abortion rights, immigration rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and women’s rights are all at stake. We need more than the Commission’s report. We must pass legislation to expand the Supreme Court.”
Senator Markey and Reps. Johnson, Nadler, and Jones introduced the Judiciary Act of 2021 in April to expand the United States Supreme Court by adding four seats, creating a 13-justice Supreme Court. This bill would restore balance to the nation’s highest court after four years of norm-breaking actions by Republicans led to its current composition and greatly damaged the Court’s standing in the eyes of the American people.
In 2016, then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republican Senate refused to consider the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the high court, citing their opposition to consideration of Supreme Court nominations in an election year. Yet, a few years later in 2020, Senate Republicans broke their own rule in order to confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett while Americans had already begun casting their votes in the presidential election. Republican appointees represent a 6-3 supermajority, and Republicans have appointed 15 of the last 19 justices to the bench.
The number of justices that sit on the Supreme Court is set by a simple act of Congress, and it can be changed the same way, without requiring a constitutional amendment. Congress has adjusted the size of the court seven times throughout its history, ranging from six to ten justices and establishing a substantial historical precedent for the legislation.