A number of prominent Democrats have advocated for packing the U.S. Supreme Court by adding new seats to the bench — but one liberal justice is warning them about the potential dangers.
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer shocked many progressives on Tuesday in an address to students and faculty at Harvard Law School, declaring that Democrats need to think “long and hard” before expanding the size of the nation’s highest court.
Efforts to pack the court
Breyer, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, is the longest-serving liberal jurist on the court and remains a figure on whom the Democratic Party keeps close tabs.
His remarks this week seemed to be an indication that he believes leftist politicians are growing desperate in their attempts to amass more partisan power.
The 82-year-old justice is becoming a source of anxiety for some Democrats, with some in the party hoping he will retire while President Joe Biden is in office to appoint his successor.
Not only has he rebuffed such efforts to coax him out of the lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, but he is also now giving the GOP some ammunition.
For their part, proponents of a court-packing scheme have not been shy about their desire to see an expanded bench — particularly after President Donald Trump appointed Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg a short time before November’s presidential election.
Breyer rises above political fray
Insisting that Republicans have effectively stolen seats on the high court, some Democrats argue that there should actually be a liberal majority in place. Breyer clearly denounced that assertion in his recent remarks to Harvard law students.
Republicans can now use his statements against any attempts by Democrats to pursue an effort to pack the court. His commitment to keeping the Supreme Court out of the political mire was evident in his address.
“The more the political fray is hot and intense, the more we stay out of it,” Breyer declared.
With no plans to retire, however, the left-leaning justice could cause even more trouble for Democrats if he stays on the court until a GOP president is in office to name his successor.
Conservatives currently hold a 6-3 majority on the bench and increasing that advantage would further jeopardize the Democratic Party’s reliance on the judicial branch to protect or uphold various legislative plans for the future.
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