Pete Buttigieg is running as a candidate for the U.S. Democratic Presidential Primary to become the Democratic Presidential Nominee. He recently(-ish) said he was looking into/supportive of a plan that involved adding seats the U.S. Supreme Court.
This Fox news article states:
He said the plan he finds “most intriguing” would expand the high court to 15 justices, with five appointed by a Democratic president, five by a GOP president, with the other five coming from the appellate bench and being seated only by the unanimous consent of the other ten.
“It just takes the politics out of it a little bit. Because we can’t go on like this, where every time there’s a vacancy, there’s these games being played and then an apocalyptic ideological battle over who the appointee is going to be,” he argued.
Boston.com quotes him as saying:
but only 10 of them are appointed through a traditional political process [i.e. the president and the Senate], Democrats and Republicans,” he said.
Buttigieg has embraced an interesting idea (first proposed in this Vox article by Daniel Epps and Ganesh Sitaraman) by which Democrats and Republicans would get to name five justices each, and then those justices would jointly name another five members to the Court.
I am not sure the exact process Mr. Buttigieg has in his mind, but that might be beside the point.
Is there a constitutionally valid way to enshrine a system of equal Democrat and Republican representation in the Supreme Court (with a ""neutral"" third portion)?
According to the House of Reps website:
Before Members are assigned to committees, each committee's size and the proportion of Republicans to Democrats must be decided by the party leaders. The total number of committee slots allotted to each party is approximately the same as the ratio between majority party and minority party members in the full Chamber.
Committees members are chosen (somewhat) proportionally as opposed to half-and-half. I am not sure what would happen if a 3rd party got enough Representatives to demand a committee member though.
Could a similar argument to that is used against partisan gerrymandering be used to assert that this type of Supreme Court structuring harms 3rd party citizens by excluding their party from the process?
Possible Follow-up Questions:
- Which court would be able to rule on such a case, the "old" Supreme Court or the "new" Supreme Court?
- Would it be allowable for current justices to be removed if, say, 6 of the 9 were deemed "Republican"? (Wikipedia says a previous law that would have shrunk the court only did so on the next vacancy)
note: I understand this might be unable to be answered without specific details of a plan, but I am not sure. I also understand something like this will probably not pass both the House and the Senate.