Planned Parenthood has officially joined the growing chorus of liberal politicians and advocates calling for adding seats to the GOP-dominated Supreme Court, the first time that the organization has done so.
In an interview Sunday with MSNBC’s Jen Psaki, the group’s CEO and president, Alexis McGill Johnson, said it’s “incredibly important now that we need to see expanded courts, from lower courts all the way up to the Supreme Court.”
McGill Johnson also called for term limits and “ethical reforms,” following new reporting on Justice Clarence Thomas’ previously undisclosed financial ties to Republican billionaire Harlan Crow. Senate Democrats are investigating.
Despite the drastic impact it could have on the law, adding seats to the Supreme Court is theoretically straightforward. The number of justices can be changed with legislation, and doesn't require a constitutional amendment. But even if the Democratic Senate majority got on board with such legislation, it would obviously face massive opposition in the Republican-controlled House. Plus, President Joe Biden has opposed the move.
Nonetheless, it’s notable that a growing minority is calling for expanding the court, or "packing" it or "adding seats," or however one describes it.
Such calls may grow louder considering a recent academic paper that projected that, without court expansion, Democrats might not control the court until 2065.
Underscoring the absurdity of how slight changes in court personnel can upend the law, the paper's authors noted that, had Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg retired before 2015, Merrick Garland been confirmed in 2016, or Justice Amy Coney Barrett not been confirmed in 2020, “the median outcome is that Democratic-leaning justices would comprise a majority on the Supreme Court for the first time in 2029 and they would control a majority of the Court for about half of the next century.”
Of course, thanks to a series of shady maneuvers — including blocking a hearing for Garland and rushing through Barrett’s confirmation — Republicans currently have a 6-3 majority on the court, which laid the groundwork for last year’s Dobbs ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.
Following the original Roe decision, it took decades for the GOP to build the Dobbs court. Now it could take as long to topple it.