Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Leads Calls To Expand Supreme Court After Texas Abortion Law

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is calling for the U.S. Supreme Court to be expanded following the decision not to block a new restrictive abortion law in Texas.

Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat representing New York's 14th congressional district, appeared to lead demands to add more justices to the nine-member court in reaction to the ruling.

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 against granting an emergency stay of Senate Bill (SB) 8 on Wednesday. The Texas law effectively prohibits all abortions after around six weeks of pregnancy.

Ocasio-Cortez tweeted early Thursday morning following the unsigned order, which had been issued just before midnight.

"Republicans promised to overturn Roe v Wade, and they have," Ocasio-Cortez said.

"Democrats can either abolish the filibuster and expand the court, or do nothing as millions of peoples' bodies, rights, and lives are sacrificed for far-right minority rule. This shouldn't be a difficult decision," she went on.

In the court's order, the majority noted that they were not addressing the constitutionality of SB8 and that legal recourse remained to those challenging the law. However, critics charge that the court's decision undermines the precedent set in the landmark 1973 case Roe V. Wade, which established a right to abortion nationwide. The court has not overturned that precedent, however.

Republicans promised to overturn Roe v Wade, and they have.

Democrats can either abolish the filibuster and expand the court, or do nothing as millions of peoples’ bodies, rights, and lives are sacrificed for far-right minority rule.

This shouldn’t be a difficult decision.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) September 2, 2021

Ocasio-Cortez has previously expressed support for expanding the court. The idea is often referred to as court-packing. Some of her Democratic colleagues have also argued for the idea, including Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts.

Before the Supreme Court issued its order on Wednesday, Markey tweeted: "Expand the Supreme Court."

Markey was one of four Democrats who introduced the Judiciary Act of 2021 in March this year, along with Representative Jerry Nadler, who is chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and Representatives Hank Johnson and Mondaire Jones.

The proposed new law would expand the court's membership from nine to 13 but appeared to have little chance of success as Democrats have a razor-thin majority in the Senate and President Joe Biden has publicly opposed court-packing the past.

Even if Democrats had the votes to pass court expansion in the Senate, Republicans could still deploy the filibuster to prevent the act from passing and there may not be enough support to abolish the procedure, as Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) opposes abolition.

Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) called for the filibuster to be abolished in a tweet on Wednesday before the court's decision on SB8: "When the Senate reconvenes later this month, we have an important choice to make: whether we will allow an archaic, undemocratic rule that's nowhere to be found in the Constitution to stymy progress on issues of critical importance. WE MUST END THE FILIBUSTER."

Following the court's failure to respond to the emergency application for relief on Tuesday, Representative Bill Pascrell of New Jersey's 9th district said Republicans had "packed the courts with political operatives to impose by fiat policies they can't win at the ballot box."

Despite Democrats' reaction to the Supreme Court's recent decisions, it remains to be seen if the party leadership will embrace expanding the court and whether they have the votes to do so.

Ocasio-Cortez Speaks at a Press Conference
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks at a press conference urging the inclusion of the Civilian Climate Corps., a climate jobs program, in the budget reconciliation bill, outside of the U.S. Capitol on July 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Ocasio-Cortez has called for the Supreme Court to be expanded following Wednesday decision on a Texas abortion law. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images