The structure and composition of the Supreme Court is under scrutiny after the White House announced it would be forming a commission to examine the possibility of expanding the court from its current nine seats.
The bipartisan commission will include legal scholars, former federal judges, and advocates for the reform of democratic institutions.
In a statement announcing the commission, the White House said:
"The Commission's purpose is to provide an analysis of the principal arguments in the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform, including an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals. The topics it will examine include the genesis of the reform debate; the Court's role in the Constitutional system; the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court's case selection, rules, and practices."
The development has revived the Republican talking point from the 2020 election that Democrats are hell-bent on expanding the size of the court in order to defeat the conservative majority that developed under former President Donald Trump.
Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas is the latest Republican to amplify that claim, asserting that Democrats would do "anything for power."
Packing the Supreme Court would destroy the Supreme Court. The Democrats will do anything for power.— Tom Cotton (@Tom Cotton)1618446603.0
The claim is rich, considering Republicans' past actions regarding the Supreme Court.
After the late Justice Antonin Scalia died in early 2016, then-President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.
Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, refused to even grant Garland a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, despite the Constitution expressly allocating for a President's right to nominate replacements for vacant Court seats.
Their excuse? It was too close to the 2016 election, 10 months away.
The Supreme Court was left with a vacant seat for an entire year, until Trump was safely in office and nominated now-Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Court.
Flash forward to late September of 2020, when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away. Early voting for the 2020 election had already begun, and Election Day was only weeks away.
Nevertheless, Republicans confirmed Trump's nominee, now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett, to the nation's highest Court, despite backlash accusing them of hypocrisy for reversing the stance they held when Scalia's seat opened.
Cotton's tweet was met with the same accusations of hypocrisy.
holding a seat open for a year just to fill it with a guy with ties to conservative dark $ groups; confirming Kavan… https://t.co/uzELkjdw5g— 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐧 𝐡𝐚𝐭𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐫-𝐦𝐚𝐲𝐬 (@𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐧 𝐡𝐚𝐭𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐫-𝐦𝐚𝐲𝐬)1618453916.0
Oh Tom, you and your Senate GOP colleagues worked *so hard* to make this happen by diligently destroying the Senate… https://t.co/NyGg70kSmq— Seth Abramson (@Seth Abramson)1618496012.0
Republicans already packed the Supreme Court By blocking Merrick Garland And appointing Gorsuch, Kavanaugh & Amy… https://t.co/HbukaChp2i— Adam Cohen Lawyers for Good Government #DemCast (@Adam Cohen Lawyers for Good Government #DemCast)1618496934.0
The court was packed when you denied Merrick Garland a hearing for almost a year and again when you rammed through… https://t.co/50js2LnkwV— The Rob Burgess Show (@The Rob Burgess Show)1618486397.0
The GOP “packed the court” for decades, with gerrymandering & voter suppression, to keep minority voting low. Now… https://t.co/Cy9Mcvyzgg— Rob Anderson for Louisiana (@Rob Anderson for Louisiana)1618495351.0
Who refused to have hearings for Merrick Garland and put Amy Coney Barrett in during the middle of an election? If… https://t.co/ymVGQlRn60— Nashoba (@Nashoba)1618454192.0
Some simply responded with Garland's name.
Merrick. Garland. https://t.co/XhPLHphq5Y— Mehdi Hasan (@Mehdi Hasan)1618453664.0
Merrick Garland. https://t.co/pcXYmxqhsx— lil Clammy (@lil Clammy)1618492951.0
Two words: Merrick Garland. https://t.co/zjVzMreuOZ— Lady Liberty (@Lady Liberty)1618505555.0
Garland now serves in the Biden administration as Attorney General.