And the Republicans might even go along with that….
As Democrats plot their strategy, they are floating expanding the number of lower court seats, an idea that could have some bipartisan support.
“I have in the city of Buffalo a huge — they don’t have enough judges. There’s this long line before you can get to court because they don’t have enough. So we could expand those,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said during a recent interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the majority whip and incoming Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, also appeared open to the idea, saying that a GOP senator had already raised the issue with him.
“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 said.
Expanding the number of court seats would require legislation in Congress, including GOP support in the Senate.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) hasn’t discussed the issue with Durbin but said he is willing to discuss more lower court judgeships.
Biden is starting his presidency with the fewest number of judicial vacancies since former President George H.W. Bush, according to FiveThirtyEight.
But Democrats are hinting that additional vacancies could be coming as judges who might have been wary of retiring during the Trump administration begin to take senior status, which would help Biden, who previously chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, broaden his ability to shape the courts.
Republicans publicly pressured GOP-appointed judges to step down last year as their control of the White House and the Senate GOP majority increasingly and accurately appeared in jeopardy.
“There will be lots of vacancies that come up. And I think there are a lot of judges, Democratic appointees who didn’t take senior status while Trump was president who now will, and … then we get to fill it,” Schumer said.
The federal courts have emerged as a growing lightning rod in recent years as the Senate has been buffeted by back-to-back Supreme Court fights and Democrats have faced growing pressure from their base to enact broad judicial reforms…