Senate Democrats are warning that a Supreme Court case involving a Mississippi abortion law could fuel efforts to pack the court if the justices undermine Roe v. Wade.
The Supreme Court announced this month it would hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of a 2018 Mississippi law prohibiting abortions after the 15th week of a woman’s pregnancy. The justices said they would limit the scope of the case to one question: Are all laws restricting pre-viability abortions unconstitutional?
Lower courts struck the law down based on Supreme Court precedent. The high court, though, can change its own precedent.
“It will inevitably fuel and drive an effort to expand the Supreme Court if this activist majority betrays fundamental constitutional principles,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said this month, according to The Hill. “It’s already driving that movement.”
The Constitution does not set the number of justices on the Supreme Court, although the body has had nine seats for more than 150 years.
Republican Presidents Donald Trump, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush nominated six of the nine members.
Any expansion of the court could tilt the court to the Left for generations, assuming President Biden, a Democrat, names the new justices.
“Chipping away at Roe v. Wade will precipitate a seismic movement to reform the Supreme Court,” Blumenthal said. “It may not be expanding the Supreme Court, it may be making changes to its jurisdiction, or requiring a certain number of votes to strike down certain past precedents.”
The 36-member Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States, launched by Biden, held its first meeting this month. Nancy Gertner, a former district judge and a member of the commission, said it would “consider the proposals” for “the membership and size of the court, and the strength and ... weaknesses of the various proposals.”
The high court is expected to hear the Mississippi case this fall.
“It really enlivens the concerns that we have about the extent to which right-wing billionaire money has influenced the makeup of the court and may even be pulling strings at the court,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said, according to The Hill.
“We’ve got a whole array of options we’re looking at,” he said of the commission.
Photo courtesy: William Murphy/Pixabay
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.