Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) encouraged fellow Senate Democrats to be ready to quickly fill any openings on the Supreme Court that may arise in his “Dear Colleague” letter of July 9.
Schumer wrote in part: “Thanks to Senate Democrats, President Biden has seen total circuit and district court nominees confirmed before July 4 of his first year than any other recent president. We will continue this critical work in the months to come. As always, Senate Democrats stand ready to expeditiously fill any potential vacancies on the Supreme Court should they arise.”
The Supreme Court currently includes three justices appointed by President Trump, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. The Court contains three more judges considered to be conservative and three traditionally liberal justices.
When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last year, she was the oldest member of the Court at 87. Her seat was filled by Justice Barrett, who at 49 became the youngest member of the Court. Justice Gorsuch at 53 and Justice Kavanaugh at age 56 are the following two youngest members.
Justice Stephen Breyer, 82, is the Court’s senior member. President Bill Clinton appointed JB to the Court of Justice Breyer in 1994, and he was one of the Court’s three liberal members.
Many left-leaning lawmakers, scholars, and pundits have expressed a desire to see Justice Breyer retire to allow President Biden to appoint a younger liberal judge to the position. Supreme Court justices who retire have often chosen the last day of the Court’s annual term to make that announcement. This year’s term ended on July 1 with no announcements or hints at retirement announcements for any of the justices.
Joe Biden avoided answering direct questions about whether he would support a “court pack” idea if elected throughout the campaign season leading up to the 2020 presidential election. Court-packing would involve Congress passing legislation to expand the size of the Supreme Court, which would create new positions for the president to fill by appointment, followed by Senate confirmation.
Even though the Democrats currently hold the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, no substantial steps have yet been taken to move forward with a court-packing scheme since Joe Biden took office.