Justice Breyer Warns Against Court-Packing
In a recent virtual speech at Harvard Law School, liberal Supreme Court Justice warned against efforts to “pack” the Supreme Court in order to eliminate the current 6-3 conservative majority:
In a speech at Harvard Law School on Tuesday, Breyer said that the court’s authority depends on “a trust that the court is guided by legal principle, not politics.”
He added: “Structural alteration motivated by the perception of political influence can only feed that latter perception, further eroding that trust.”
On this point, Breyer echoed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who spoke out against court-packing even more forcefully in 2019:
“Nine seems to be a good number. It’s been that way for a long time,” she said, adding, “I think it was a bad idea when President Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the court…”
Roosevelt’s proposal would have given him six additional Supreme Court appointments, expanding the court to 15 members. And Ginsburg sees any similar plan as very damaging to the court and the country.
“If anything would make the court look partisan,” she said, “it would be that — one side saying, ‘When we’re in power, we’re going to enlarge the number of judges, so we would have more people who would vote the way we want them to.’ “
That impairs the idea of an independent judiciary, she said.
Ginsburg’s fear that court-packing would undermine judicial independence and, thus, judicial review) strikes me as a more compelling concern than Breyer’s worry that it would merely erode public confidence in the Court, though the two issues are obviou