Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the progressive independent who is a leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said at a liberal gathering Monday that he opposes adding seats to the Supreme Court.
“My worry is that the next time Republicans are in power, they will do the same thing,” he said in response to a question at the We the People Summit, which was organized by the Service Employees International Union, the Sierra Club and other liberal groups. “I don’t think it’s the ultimate solution.”
Instead, Sanders said he was open to the idea of rotating appeals court judges onto the Supreme Court and “bringing in new blood.” Some law professors have suggested making every judge on the federal appeals courts an associate justice of the Supreme Court, with the nine judges serving on the nation’s top panel changing every two weeks. The goal would be to cool down the political temperature of fights over the courts and require lawyers before the court to prepare broader arguments that could appeal to judges across the ideological spectrum.
“As Sanders’ proposal shows, there is a growing consensus in the Democratic Party now that the Supreme Court must be reformed,” said Brian Fallon, the executive director of the liberal judicial group Demand Justice. “The only remaining debate is how to best reform it. No one is any longer defending the status quo of just letting the Roberts Court block progressive priorities for the next 30 years. Progressive activists have awakened to the danger posed by Trump’s packing of the courts, and Democratic candidates for president now see they need a plan to respond to this crisis.”