The Trump administration and the Republican Senate moved at a record pace to fill vacancies on the federal judiciary over the past four years. The courts are one of two obstacles currently preventing Democrats from going full-throttle on their radical agenda. As luck would have it, Biden is beginning his presidency with the fewest number of judicial vacancies since George H.W. Bush.
With Biden in the Oval office, a tie in the Senate, and a reduced majority in the House, Democrats are plotting ways to work around the conservative composition of the courts. While packing the Supreme Court may be a bridge too far, Democrats are floating the idea when it comes to the lower courts, where there may be some Republican senators open to the idea.
Of course, Democrats are open to it. They're anxious to mitigate the judicial legacy of the Trump years.
Pointing to long lines at courts in Buffalo, New York, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow about the need for more judges in places where they "don't have enough."
According to The Hill, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the incoming Senate Judiciary Committee chairman and Senate Majority Whip, said he's been approached by a Republican colleague who expressed a need for additional judgeships in his state.
"Interestingly enough, I had a Republican senator who approached me about expanding the number of federal judges in his state so there seems to be some sentiment that there [are] backlogs in the dockets of federal judges," Durbin recalled.
Texas GOP Senator John Cornyn has said that he is willing to have a conversation about adding judges to the lower courts.
"My state’s a big, growing state, and we’ve got huge caseloads. ... I’d be open to having a conversation about that," said Cornyn.
President Biden is forming a bipartisan commission to study a possible expansion of the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary. Schumer said he will wait for the findings of the commission before moving on the Supreme Court.
During the campaign, Biden refused to state his position when it comes to packing the Supreme Court. But Vice President Kamala Harris said she is open to the idea. According to Schumer, Senate Democrats are torn on the idea.