Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following remarks, as prepared, at a press conference announcing the introduction of the Judiciary Act of 2021:
“First, I want to thank my friends and colleagues, Courts Subcommittee Chairman Hank Johnson, Senator Markey, and Representative Jones for their leadership in introducing this bill. I also want to acknowledge the work of the broad coalition of public interest groups supporting this bill and educating the public about an important reform to the structure of the Supreme Court—one that by historical standards is long overdue.
“There is nothing new about changing the size of the Supreme Court. The Constitution leaves the number of justices to the discretion of Congress, and Congress has changed that number 7 times already throughout our history. Our founders understood that, as the country and the judicial system evolved, the Court would need to evolve with it.
“This legislation represents a much-needed next step in that evolution.
“Many people tend to think about the Supreme Court in terms of its individual members, but we should, instead, think about the Court as a cherished institution that is called upon to hear an ever-growing set of increasingly complex and diverse legal issues each day.
“The Judiciary Act of 2021 takes the long view of this institution and ensures that it can meet the challenges of today and those for many years to come.
“Nine justices may have made sense in the nineteenth century when there were only nine circuits, only a few hundred appeals were filed before the Court every year, and so many of our most important laws—covering everything from civil rights, to antitrust, the internet, financial regulation, health care, immigration, and white collar crime—simply did not exist, and did not require adjudication by the Supreme Court.
“But the logic behind having only nine justices is much weaker today, when there are 13 circuits, thousands of cases filed before the Court each year, and the full range of statutes and regulations that make our economy and our society work.
“Our predecessors made eminent sense when they pegged the size of the Supreme Court to the number of judicial circuits. As our country has grown, so too should our Supreme Court.
“Thirteen justices for thirteen circuits is a logical progression and that is why I am glad to join my colleagues in introducing the Judiciary Act of 2021. Thank you.”
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