Progressive activists pledge to push the court packing legislation into law

Progressive activists Thursday rallied around new court-packing legislation and pledged to do the grassroots work to convince the Democratic-led Congress to pass the legislation to create a 13-member Supreme Court

Sean Eldridge, founder and president of Stand Up America, said his organization will be educating millions of members about the importance of the legislation and mobilize a grassroots effort to pressure Congress to act. 

“That’s the work ahead of us,” Eldridge said Thursday during a press phone call with fellow court expansion activists. “And I think as the Supreme Court continues its extreme rulings, I expect public opinion and political support for court expansion will continue to grow.”

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The Supreme Court currently has a 6-3 conservative majority and activists predicted as more rulings come down that chip away at abortion access, voting rights and more, public opinion will shift in favor of court expansion. 

“The politics will continue to move rapidly on this, and this bill will pass,” said Aaron Belkin, director of Take Back the Court.

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., along with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Judiciary Committee members Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y., and Hank Johnson, D-Ga., announced their legislation to expand the Supreme Court earlier Thursday. 

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The Judiciary Act of 2021 is just a two-page bill that would increase the number of justices on the court from 9 to 13, setting up an immediate opportunity for President Biden to nominate four new justices to be confirmed in the Democratic-led Senate.

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., talks about his legislation to pack the Supreme Court on April 15, 2021.

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., talks about his legislation to pack the Supreme Court on April 15, 2021.

The legislation has long-odds of passing Congress because unless Democrats abolish the filibuster, it would require 60 votes for passage in the Senate. And key Democrats have not embraced the idea of the court expansion legislation, notably President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

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But optimistic activists said Thursday introducing legislation is just the first step and now the political organization will begin to change minds and line up votes. 

Chris Kang, co-founder and chief counsel of Demand Justice, said they’ll be targeting each Democrat in the House and Senate to get them on board. 

“The importance of having this bill introduced now is that it gives us something to really organize around,” Kang said. “And so we have, you know, 218 targets in the House and 50 targets in the Senate … Member by member, senator by senator, we’re going to start making the case.”

Republicans are firmly against the court-packing proposal, calling it a delusional progressive attempt to destroy the Supreme Court. 

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“Here are some facts: The Supreme Court isn’t supposed to be America’s super-legislature,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb. “Democrats don’t have some historic mandate in a 50-50 Senate to nuke the Court; the progressive activists who wrote this bill are high on their own supply; and a whole bunch of sane Democrats are quietly praying this thing dies. The court-packing bill is delusional.”

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