Great question! I do not think there should be more than nine supreme court justices because I think adding more justices would be a slippery slope. If the next congress adds two justices because they do not like the current make up, the following congress could add two more for the same reason. And before you know it, the supreme court has become unmanageable.
I do think, however, that other court reforms should be made. For example, I would support judicial term limits of 12 or 18 years (two or three senate terms).
I think this is a great point. I agree that adding 2 justices at a time would just end in each subsequent administration just adding however many justices they want (and thus only exacerbate the problem we have now, which is that the makeup of the Supreme Court is a result of sheer political power and thus basically another arm of whoever holds it).
Legal analyst (and one of my favorite hilarious contrarians) Elie Mystal makes an interesting case for adding way more than that, and moving toward a panel system more like the Circuit Courts of Appeal (as well as adding ethical guidelines, of which the Supreme Court currently has none): “That’s how I arrive at my preferred number for court packing: 10 additional justices, to overrule the nine others who may consider themselves beyond ethical accountability. A 19-member Supreme Court, hearing most cases in panels and subject to ethical standards, would look, feel, and act more like every other federal court. It would still be a partisan institution, and it could still be manipulated via deaths and retirements, but uplifting the Supreme Court to the standards in place for the lower courts would still count as meaningful reform.”
@annalise.leonelli Thank you for sharing this resource! I had not considered this method of adding additional justices. I will have to read more about this proposal so I know what reforms to call my representatives about in January.
This question makes me ponder the underlying circumstances that have us debating the expansion of the Supreme Court.
I think the fact that we're discussing this in light of RBG's death shows what a failure our national legislative body has become. We have come to depend on the SCOTUS, and particularly RBG, to uphold the ACA and to guarantee reproductive rights to our population. What a sad state of affairs...
On one hand, I wouldn't mind expansion of the Court. I'm not opposed to it in theory.
On the other hand, if we have the legislative power to expand the Court, wouldn't that mean we would have the legislative power to do some other good stuff too? In this fantasy scenario, I'd be more interested in pressuring Congress to take on: 1. Green New Deal, 2. campaign-finance reform, and 3. universal healthcare. I'd be afraid that expanding political capital beyond that would backfire.
I am of a similar perspective. It should not be the case that we are so desperately reliant on a non-elected appointed position to uphold and protect different policy issues. This is why legislative elections at the federal and local level are so important. Must excise the delegates that would legislate in opposition to what we see as common sense constitutional rights.
This leads me to my worry about packing the court. Turning the highest level of the judiciary into the same slow turning wheel as the legislative. How will more justices affect the rate of cert's per year. Yet, the argument cited by Annalise is persuasive. An ethical standard would be meaningful reform