House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is opposed to an effort by some congressional Democrats to expand the number of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court from nine to 13 and will not permit such a bill to come to the House floor for a vote, at least not for now.
During her weekly press briefing on Thursday, Pelosi said that she’s not necessarily opposed to expanding the court but for now will wait for findings from the commission President Joe Biden established to study the issue.
“I support the president’s commission to study a such a proposal,” Pelosi said, telling reporters that the House’s focus for the time being is on infrastructure.
“I don’t know that that’s a good idea or bad idea. I think it’s an idea that to be considered. And I think the president’s taking the right approach to, to have a commission to study such a thing,” the Speaker said, according to the New York Post.
She continued: “It’s not out of the question, it has been done before,” noting that “the history of our country a long time ago, and the growth of our country, the size of our country, the growth of our challenges in terms of the economy, etc. might necessitate such a thing.”
Earlier that day, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.J.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) proposed legislation that would expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court to 13.
“We are not packing the Supreme Court, we are unpacking it,” Nadler said at a news conference about the bill on the steps of the Supreme Court.
“Republicans stole the Court’s majority, with Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation completing their crime spree,” said Senator Markey in a statement. “Of all the damage Donald Trump did to our Constitution, this stands as one of his greatest travesties. Senate Republicans have politicized the Supreme Court, undermined its legitimacy, and threatened the rights of millions of Americans, especially people of color, women, and our immigrant communities. This legislation will restore the Court’s balance and public standing and begin to repair the damage done to our judiciary and democracy, and we should abolish the filibuster to ensure we can pass it.”
Pelosi, however, told reporters she has no intention to bring the bill to the House floor.
Even if it were to come up for a vote, it’s unclear if the bill would have enough support to pass. Democrats hold 218 seats and cannot afford to lose more than two votes from their party on any bill because tie votes fail in the House. In the Senate there is no chance a bill to pack the Supreme Court would be introduced without an immediate filibuster attempt from Senate Republicans, pushing the number of Senate votes Democrats need to advance the bill to 60.
And there’s no guarantee President Joe Biden would even sign the legislation. On the campaign trail in 2020, Biden said he is “not a fan” of court packing, though last week he created a commission to study proposed reforms to the judiciary to placate progressive activists.