Congress originally set the size of the Supreme Court at six justices in the Judiciary Act of 1789 but has altered the size several times. Since 1869, the size of the Supreme Court has remained at nine. In response to actions by Republicans to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court, progressive groups and some Democrats have proposed expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court. On Friday, April 9, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order creating a commission to examine possible reforms to the Supreme Court and federal judiciary. One such reform is this idea of expanding the size of the Supreme Court. This deliberation has students explore the history of the size of the court, the politicization of the Supreme Court, and arguments over expanding the size of the court. Students will analyze perspectives of experts, activists, and public officials to address the following question:
Should Congress expand the size of the Supreme Court?
Objectives and Outcomes
- Students will be able to describe the structure of the Supreme Court, its origins, and the history of its expansion.
- Students will be able to identify recent events that have contributed to the politicization of the Supreme Court.
- Students will be able to evaluate the arguments for and against expanding the Supreme Court and formulate their own opinion using examples from the lesson.