Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., recently wrote in an opinion editorial piece explaining that she now supports adding justices to the Supreme Court after overturning Roe v. Wade.
Warren’s support lends high-profile backing to an effort backed by some Democrats to combat the court’s more conservative bent.
In the piece, Warren said she now supports expanding the Supreme Court because its makeup now “threatens the democratic foundations of our nation.”
The senator cited the likelihood the court may reverse abortion rights this term, along with other cases on its docket, including climate change and gun rights.
Senator Warren hit back against criticism against court expansion, saying it would start a “never-ending cycle” of adding justices. She explained that those arguments are “wrong” and “do not reflect the gravity of the Republican hijacking” of the Supreme Court.
She argued that adding justices would actually “deescalate the arms race around the court.” Warren said that not taking action would give those “corrupt[ing]” the court full permission to continue and help combat the high court’s low approval ratings and the public’s perception that the court has become too political.
The senator had previously not taken a position on adding justices. She only said that it was a “conversation worth having during her losing presidential campaign.”
Senate bill to add justices
Senator Warren joins Senators Tina Smith, D-Minn., and Ed Markey, D-Mass. are the only two Senate sponsors of legislation that would add four justices to the Supreme Court, if passed.
In contrast, the House version of the bill has had more support with 45 co-sponsors, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.
In her op-ed piece, Warren wrote, “I believe in an independent judiciary. I also believe in a judiciary that upholds the rule of law — not one that ignores it to promote a deeply unpopular and partisan agenda at odds with the Constitution and the settled rights of our citizens.”
The proposal to add justices, known as court-packing, has brought criticism from both sides. Several Democrat senators have criticized the proposal as unrealistic. House Leader Nancy Pelosi has refused to bring the bill up for a vote.
President Joe Biden’s commission has dedicated itself to studying Supreme Court reforms and concluded that Congress did have the power to expand the court while taking a “no position on the wisdom” of court expansion.
The report noted that remained “profound disagreement” among legal scholars over whether justices should be added.
It is unclear whether more Democratic lawmakers will follow Senator Warren’s lead.
Activist group Demand Justice, which advocates for court expansion, said in a statement they viewed Senator Warren’s support as a “tipping point” for the movement. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement in April that he would wait for the findings of Biden’s commission before he took a position on the possible legislation.
According to reports, Schumer’s office has not yet responded to a request for comment since the commission released its final report.
President Biden himself has not expanded the court, while in the White House or on the campaign trail. Instead, he formed the commission to study the issue. The push to expand the Supreme Court gained momentum after former President Donald Trump appointed three justices to the bench, which gave the court a 6-3 conservative tilt after Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation in 2020.
The conservative lean has worried Democrats recently, as the court had signaled its likelihood to dismantle abortion rights and roll back gun restrictions.
It has also released rulings against issues including eviction moratorium and immigration. The size of the court is set by Congress and has been changed previously six times, with the last time being set at nine shortly after the Civil War.