Democrats Reintroduce Bill To Expand U.S. Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, May 16, a group of U.S. Senate and House Democrats reintroduced the Judiciary Act of 2023, a bill that would add four seats to the U.S. Supreme Court, bringing the bench from nine to 13 justices. The bill was introduced by Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). The Judiciary Act was first introduced in 2021; a press release cites the growing support for court expansion in the intervening two years.

While the Supreme Court was established by Article III of the U.S. Constitution, the size, structure and functioning of the Court was left to Congress to outline in a series of Judiciary Acts. Throughout U.S. history, there have been seven changes to the number of justices sitting on the Supreme Court, the last of which settled at nine justices in 1869 to reflect the nine circuit courts at the time. (There are now thirteen federal circuit courts.)

Today, the argument for an expanded Court has reemerged. “Republicans have hijacked the confirmation process and stolen the Supreme Court majority—all to appeal to far-right judicial activists who for years have wanted to wield the gavel to roll back fundamental rights,” Markey said in a press release. “Each scandal uncovered, each norm broken, each precedent-shattering ruling delivered is a reminder that we must restore justice and balance to the rogue, radical Supreme Court. It is time we expand the Court.”

Read the Judiciary Act of 2023 here.

Read more about court reform from Democracy Docket contributor Rakim Brooks.