Court-packing advocate says Buttigieg’s plan to expand Supreme Court would be ‘struck down’

Court-packing advocate Kate Kendell said on Thursday that South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s proposal to overhaul the Supreme Court isn’t feasible.

Buttigieg’s plan would add six justices, expanding the court from nine to 15. Under the system, Democrats and Republicans would each name five appointees to the court, and five apolitical justices would be chosen by the first 10 on the court.

“Buttigieg’s 5-5-5 plan — that would go to this very court,” Kendell, campaign manager of the left-leaning group Pack the Courts, told Hill.TV, referring to the high court. “And it would be struck down.”

Kendell added that the only way to expand the Supreme Court is through legislative action.

“The only way this is going to succeed is expanding the court, which can be done by a bill in Congress,” she said. “It’s not challengeable and then we could go about rebuilding the Democracy that we love.” 

Even though a handful of Democratic candidates have called for Supreme Court reform, Buttigieg has been the most vocal about the issue, making it central to his campaign platform.

“The reform of not just expanding the number of members but doing it in a way where some of them are selected on a consensus, nonpartisan basis, it’s a very promising way to do it,” told NBC News last week in an interview detailing the plan.

The campaign did not comment to Hill.TV on Thursday.

Buttigieg in the interview with NBC News last week wasn’t specific how he would get it done, but said he one of the first things he would do as president is launch a commission to depoliticize the Supreme Court. He hasn’t ruled out using legislative means.

The idea of adding justices to the high court has started to gain momentum over the past few years among progressive activists and liberal groups like Pack the Courts as a way of tempering the effects of President Trump’s two appointees, who have given conservatives on the court a 5-4 majority.

But not all progressives are on board with the idea. 

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) reportedly said in April that adding additional seats to the Supreme Court is not the “ultimately solution” and he would instead consider other proposals such as term limits for justices.

—Tess Bonn


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