Opinion

Expanding the Supreme Court Is Essential to Democracy

With a dramatically unbalanced Supreme Court, it is essential to add more justices in order to fairly represent many perspectives.

The expansion or “packing” of the Supreme Court has been long debated. The most recent attempt at doing so was made by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937. He tried to pass a law allowing a new justice to be added to the court any time an older justice passed the age of 70 and did not retire. He failed, and in doing so created a false narrative surrounding the idea of court expansion. It is now regarded as an obscure notion meant only to unjustly stack the otherwise “neutral” court against political opponents. It is time to expand the Supreme Court, in order to make it fairer and more representative of our country. 

Unbeknownst to many, the Republican party has been successfully packing the court for centuries. More recently, the blocking of President Barack Obama’s justice nominee in 2016, the last year of his presidency, is a prime example of dangerously subtle court packing. At what point is the line drawn? If our country is to continue on as an independent nation priding itself on justice, we must consider the possibility that things like laws and powerful positions grow and change. Expanding the Supreme Court is the only reasonable option, a leap of faith that Congress must take in order to ensure a fair judicial process. 

 Reproductive rights could soon be stripped from people all across the nation, yet the fear of upsetting balance in a bipartisan system that already compromises democratic values is what’s on the forefront of many politicians’ minds.

A concern shared by voters nationwide is that expanding the Supreme Court would make it somehow less credible. What they fail to consider is that new perspectives are exactly what is needed. A conversation about the Court’s integrity needs to be had. Non-partisan representation of the people should be a requirement, and in order to instate such an idea, the pot must be stirred. When people are too comfortable in a system, they tend to disregard necessary change, and it’s time we acknowledge the flaws within the Supreme Court. 

The Constitution of the United States does not list a required number of Supreme Court justices. It leaves the idea of the Court rather open-ended, bequeathing its creation and interpretation to Congress. The expansion and contraction of the number of justices isn’t a new idea. In fact, the court fluctuated in size seven times before settling on nine total justices in 1869. A change like this wouldn’t be experimental and shouldn’t be looked at as such. 

Considering the stakes at hand, it’s rather surprising how contested this idea is in “progressive” spaces. Reproductive rights could soon be stripped from people all across the nation, yet the fear of upsetting balance in a bipartisan system that already compromises democratic values is what’s on the forefront of many politicians’ minds. 

If leaders in our democracy wish to represent the people, they need to start the process of court expansion. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen unless the Senate is controlled by Democrats, which will be determined by the Georgia Senate runoff elections in January. Organizations like Take Back the Court run on donations and the continuation of their efforts depends on people who can advocate for and donate to their cause. Remember that your voice needs to be heard by your representatives and that the fight for equality within the judicial system is far from over.

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