The White House said President Joe Biden does not agree with fellow Democrats’ calls for the U.S. Supreme Court to be expanded in the wake of recent rulings on guns and abortion that he has called disappointing and troubling.
“That is something that the president does not agree with,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Saturday when asked about Biden’s stance on adding justices. “That is not something that he wants to do.”
Several Democrats have called for additional seats to be added to the nine-member court, which currently has a 6-3 conservative majority.
These lawmakers include Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rep. Mondaire Jones of New York, Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
“This court has lost legitimacy, they have burned whatever legitimacy they may have still had,” Warren, who has previously called for adding at least four more justices, said in an interview Sunday with ABC News’ “This Week.” “I believe we need to get some confidence back in our court, and that means we need more justices on the United State Supreme Court.”
The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a New York state law, enacted in 1913, that limited carrying concealed handguns outside the home. The following day, it reversed its 1973 ruling that women have a constitutional right to abortion.
“This ruling contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply trouble us all,” Biden said of the gun rights decision.
On abortion, he said the court’s ruling puts the country on an “extreme and dangerous path.”
Warren, in an op-ed published Saturday with Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), called on Biden to declare a public health emergency in the wake of the court’s abortion ruling. Warren and Smith said such a declaration would “protect abortion access for all Americans, unlocking critical resources and authority that states and the federal government can use to meet the surge in demand for reproductive health services.”
Jean-Pierre said the White House is concerned about additional limitations being imposed on women’s access to contraception and other reproductive healthcare following the court’s ruling. Though she didn’t immediately have a strategy to share, she said Biden is “going to continue to look at solutions” and determine legally “what else we can do.”
Democrats early last year unveiled a bill that would expand the number of Supreme Court seats to 13, but that measure has stalled in Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said then that she had “no plans to bring it to the floor” but that a future consideration is “not out of the question.”
“It has been done before in the history of our country a long time ago,” Pelosi said of prior changes to the number of justices, “and 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, but in answer to your question, I have no plans to bring it to the floor.”
Polls have shown that the majority of Americans support federal protections of abortion rights. One recent poll by CBS News/YouGov found that 59% of Americans disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Of those polled, 67% of the women disapprove.