The Daily Beast

‘Court-Packing’ Doesn’t Seem So Radical After TX Abortion Law

Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

Supreme Court expansion is no longer dismissed as a crazy idea, not after six conservative justices hijacked a Texas case to ban almost all abortions in the state, issuing their opinion on a shadow docket in the dead of night without so much as signing their names. Even the chief justice, John Roberts, who wrote a dissent, is powerless to stop the slide. The stunning ruling, designed to advance an ideological agenda, adds urgency and credibility to efforts to overhaul the Supreme Court, knowing more such lopsided decisions are surely on the way.

“How can you see this happen and ignore the reality that this court has been captured by the Federalist Society and by right-wing elements of the Republican Party,” Minnesota Senator Tina Smith told The Daily Beast. “Instead of sitting and whining, I want to do something,” she said. And for Smith that meant signing on to the Judiciary Act of 2021, which would add four seats to the nine-member Supreme Court, making up for “two appointments that should have been made by other presidents,” she said, referring to Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, Trump appointees confirmed only because of Mitch McConnell’s sleight of hand in changing Senate rules.

Smith is the third Senate Democrat to support the legislation sponsored by Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey. The other is Alex Padilla of California. The House bill has 31 cosponsors, mainly progressives. It’s not a stampede, but Supreme Court expansion is gaining traction like a slow-moving freight train bearing down on the political process. Former California Senator Barbara Boxer, once opposed to filibuster reform, a prerequisite to Supreme Court reform, now favors court expansion and other changes, including an age limit, and she is blunt in declaring Justice Stephen Breyer, 83, should step down while Democrats have the power to confirm his replacement.

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