Democrats' Court-Packing Plan Dead on Arrival as Nancy Pelosi Won't Consider It

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has nixed a proposal to expand the U.S. Supreme Court, telling reporters Thursday that she won't advance legislation some Democrats unveiled this week.

"I have no plan to bring it to the floor," Pelosi, a California Democrat, said.

The Judiciary Act of 2021, backed by House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat, would add four seats to the high court.

In a news release, Nadler argued that because there are now 13 circuit districts, instead of nine, that growing the court makes sense.

Others backing the proposal have pointed to the court's conservative tilt after former President Donald Trump seated three new justices during his four years in office. The Republican-controlled Senate blocked former President Barack Obama from appointing a justice during his final year in office, saving the seat for Trump's appointee.

"Of all the damage Donald Trump did to our Constitution, this stands as one of his greatest travesties," Senator Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who supports the plan, said in a news release. "This legislation will restore the Court's balance and public standing and begin to repair the damage done to our judiciary and democracy, and we should abolish the filibuster to ensure we can pass it."

Republicans in recent days have blasted the proposal as an attempted power grab—setting up a potential battle over the legislation.

"Never in my time in politics did I believe it would go this far," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, told reporters Thursday.

He noted that Nadler's position as chair of Judiciary makes the proposal particularly significant.

"Packing the Supreme Court would destroy the Supreme Court," Senator Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, tweeted Wednesday. "The Democrats will do anything for power."

Pelosi said she instead supports a commission, as President Joe Biden has suggested, to study any changes to the Supreme Court.

"I don't know that it's a good idea or bad idea," Pelosi said. "The growth of our country, the size of our country, the growth of our challenges in terms of the economy, etc., might necessitate such a thing."

Biden announced the commission, which was a campaign pledge, earlier this month.

The number of Supreme Court justices can be changed by a simple act of Congress without a constitutional amendment, but it hasn't been altered since 1869.

Republicans have appointed 15 of the most recent 19 justices, and Republican appointees currently have a 6-3 majority on the bench.

Biden's commission, created through executive order on April 9, will hold public hearings.

Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on April 13, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images