U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree announced Wednesday that she is cosponsoring a bill that would expand the number of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court from nine to 13.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, shown at Acadia National Park in June. Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

The move is meant to counter “years of norm-breaking actions” by Republicans and restore balance to the nation’s highest court, said Pingree, a Democrat representing Maine’s 1st District, in a news release.

“In over a century, we have not had a more partisan Supreme Court than the one we have today,” Pingree said. “We must expand the court to balance the right wing court-packing that happened under former President Trump.”

Pingree said the court’s inaction on issues in recent weeks prompted her to cosponsor the bill by Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Georgia.

The bill would expand the number of justices to equal the number of federal appellate courts.

“Last month, these justices failed to act and allowed a near-half-century precedent to be discarded without a second thought,” Pingreee said. “Our laws must be interpreted by neutral jurists who are driven by fact and precedent, not partisans bent on attacking our constitutional rights.”

Known as the Judiciary Act, the bill is likely to face an uphill battle in a closely divided Congress – the Senate is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats.

Democrats have debated whether to try to expand the court since 2016, when then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, refused to bring President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to a Senate vote. McConnell said at the time that the next president, not one who would soon leave office, should make the nomination for the lifetime court appointment.

Republican President Donald Trump nominated three new conservative justices who were confirmed to the court. He nominated Amy Coney Barrett only a few months before his first term ended in 2020, when votes were already being cast in the presidential race. Trump nominees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh were also confirmed.

Pingree joins 35 other members of Congress in supporting the bill to expand the court. Maine’s 2nd District Rep. Jared Golden, also a Democrat, has not said whether he supports expanding the court and he did not return calls Wednesday.

Pingree was unavailable to speak with the Press Herald about the bill on Wednesday.


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