House Democrats call for Supreme Court expansion in wake of potential Roe reversal

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) addresses reporters during press conference on Tuesday, November 30, 2021 to call out Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-Colo.) anti-Islamic remarks.
Greg Nash
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) addresses reporters during press conference on Tuesday, November 30, 2021 to call out Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-Colo.) anti-Islamic remarks.

A number of House Democrats are calling for the Supreme Court to be expanded after a leaked draft ruling indicated that the high court has voted to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that established the federal right to abortion.

Politico on Monday published an initial draft majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, that said the rulings made in Roe v. Wade and the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey have no grounding in the Constitution. The high court on Tuesday said the document published by the outlet was “authentic,” but emphasized that it does not reflect the final decision from the bench.

The draft opinion is now reverberating throughout Washington, with Democratic lawmakers speaking out against it and advocating for next steps to safeguard abortion rights on the federal level.

Some lawmakers on the left are also pushing for seats to be added to the Supreme Court.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) said in a series of tweets on Tuesday that Congress should expand the Supreme Court “to restore the legitimacy of the institution and protect the rights of millions… of people in America.”

Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) sounded a similar note, writing in a statement on Tuesday that the Congress “must reform and expand the Supreme Court.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said overturning Roe v. Wade would put the lives of women in the U.S. at risk, adding that it would “fly in the face of decades of precedent and the overwhelming majority of public opinion.”

“And they will not stop here. Expand the court,” the congresswoman added in a tweet Monday night.

Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) addressed his colleagues on Twitter Monday night, writing “It’s not too late to support the only policy that would restore sanity to this broken Court. It’s not too late to add four seats.”

Also on Monday night, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) wrote in a tweet that the leaked majority opinion reiterated for her that Congress needs to expand the courts. She also said the filibuster must be abolished and the Equal Rights Amendment ratified.

The court currently has a 6-3 conservative majority. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will assume the bench upon Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement at the end of the current term.

Democrats last April introduced a bill to expand the Supreme Court from nine to 13 seats. The legislation, dubbed the Judiciary Act of 2021, has not progressed in Congress.

In October, a bipartisan commission tasked by the White House with exploring potential reforms to the high court, said there are “considerable” risks to expanding the bench.

Despite that finding, the Congressional Progressive Caucus endorsed the bill in January, with Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the caucus chair, writing in a statement that the group “determined that the urgent work to restore American democracy must include expanding the Supreme Court.”

“The current bench was filled by a partisan, right-wing effort to entrench a radical, anti-democratic faction and erode human rights that have been won over decades,” she added.

A Marquette Law School poll conducted in September found that 48 percent of U.S. adults favor increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court, while 51 percent said they oppose such a move. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Tags Abortion Andy Levin Andy Levin Carolyn Maloney Carolyn Maloney Ilhan Omar Ilhan Omar Jamaal Bowman Jamaal Bowman Mondaire Jones Mondaire Jones Pramila Jayapal Pramila Jayapal Roe v. Wade Samuel Alito Supreme Court Supreme Court expansion

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