Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said this week that efforts to expand the Supreme Court will likely “destroy” the rule of law and politicize the judiciary.
“It will destroy the rule of law as we know. This is the biggest assault on the rule of law and the independent judiciary in my lifetime,” Graham told Fox News’ Judge Jeanine Pirro.
“I think they want to turn the court upside down, to pack it with liberals because they don’t like the makeup of the court. And what will happen is that every time one party takes over from the other, [they] will change the number of justices.”
He warned that such efforts would transform the court into a “political football” and “destroy the Supreme Court as we know it.”
Graham’s comments were made in reaction to a new House Democrat proposal to expand the nation’s top court from nine to 13 seats. Lobbying efforts by liberal activists to “pack the court” have ramped up in recent months following their unsuccessful attempt last year to stop then-Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination.
“Republicans stole the Court’s majority, with Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation completing their crime spree,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), one of the key co-sponsors of the bill, said in a statement. “This legislation will restore the Court’s balance and public standing and begin to repair the damage done to our judiciary and democracy.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jarrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), another co-sponsor, sought to justify the proposal saying that 13 seats would match the 13 circuit courts.
“The logic behind having only nine justices is much weaker today, when there are 13 circuits, thousands of cases filed before the Court each year, and the full range of statutes and regulations that make our economy and our society work,” Nadler said.
The Democrats’ efforts were met with fierce opposition by conservatives and moderates who are worried that the move will undermine the integrity and people’s trust in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Several groups of Republican lawmakers have launched countermeasures in an effort to keep the number of seats on the bench to nine. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, announced his effort the same day the group of Democrats promoted their new bill. The GOP proposal requires an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to limit the number of justices.
He said that the Democrat’s attempts to expand the court stems from their hunger for power and an attempt to concentrate it in Washington D.C.
“They did that because they want power, just like how they changed the election laws, just like how they’ve gone after your guns and your weapons, just like how they’re leaving the border open and granting amnesty so more people can come in. All of this is related to their attempt to irrigate power to the center, which is Washington D.C.,” Biggs said.
But the attempt by Biggs or others to amend the Constitution are doomed to fail in the current Congress given that both chambers are currently Democrat controlled.
The bill may also face challenges from differing views among Democrats. A number of Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have yet to completely back the bill as the Democrat’s method to pass legislation to expand the court.
“I have no plans to bring it to the floor,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters in Washington. Instead, she said she supports President Joe Biden’s commission to study possible reforms to the court.
“I don’t know that that’s a good idea or a bad idea. I think it’s an idea that should be considered, and I think the president’s taking the right approach to have the commission to study such a thing,” she said.
Other members have also expressed caution about supporting the bill.
“I just heard about it. I’m not ready to sign on yet. I think this commission of Biden is the right move,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Senate majority whip, said.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a moderate, said separately on Thursday that he opposes expanding the court.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to form a commission to study possible reforms to the nation’s top court, including proposals to expand the court. He presented the idea of the commission as an alternative to “court-packing” efforts.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.
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