Only 32% of Americans Support Increasing Number of Supreme Court Justices: Poll

More than a quarter of American voters do not believe the number of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court should be increased, according to a poll released on Thursday.

The concept of expanding the Supreme Court bench surfaced after the Friday death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement that evening suggesting that the seat would be filled by an individual nominated by President Donald Trump. Some Democrats criticized McConnell for allegedly rushing into a decision, saying that the seat should be left vacant until after the November election. In the ensuing controversy, some Democratic lawmakers have discussed adding more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll, released Thursday, only 32 percent of Americans backed expanding the number of justices in the U.S. Supreme Court. Thirty-nine percent of voters surveyed opposed the idea, while 29 percent said they weren’t sure if the bench should be expanded.

Democrats were more in favor of the move, with 48 percent in support. Only 20 percent of Republicans surveyed agreed with the proposal.

Newsweek subscription offers >

U.S. Supreme Court
Americans are divided as to whether the number of Supreme Court justices should be increased, according to poll findings release Thursday.
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty

McConnell spearheaded a 2016 effort to block Judge Merrick Garland, who was nominated to the Supreme Court by the Obama administration, from receiving confirmation hearings. Obama nominated Garland to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. At the time, McConnell said any nominee put forth by a president in an election year would not be considered.

“The American people should have a say in the court’s direction,” McConnell said at the time. “It is a president’s constitutional right to nominate a Supreme Court justice, and it is the Senate’s constitutional right to act as a check on the president and withhold its consent.”

In a Friday tweet, Massachusetts Democratic Senator Ed Markey resurfaced McConnell’s remarks and suggested that the Supreme Court should be expanded.

Newsweek subscription offers >

“McConnell set the precedent,” Markey tweeted. “No Supreme Court vacancies filled in an election year. If he violates it, when Democrats control the Senate in the next Congress, we must abolish the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court.”

The filibuster is a legislative method used by senators to block or delay the passing of legislation. Under Senate rules, lawmakers are allowed to speak for any length of time about any issue unless roughly 60 out of 100 senators—two-fifths—vote to end a debate.

Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Saturday that if the Republicans move to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat before the election, then “nothing is off the table next year.”

President Trump is expected to announce his nominee on Saturday at the White House. During a campaign event in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, Trump said that Americans were “going to love” his choice. “If you don’t like it,” the president said, “don’t vote for me.”

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said Sunday that he would not release a list of potential Supreme Court nominees before the upcoming November election.

Newsweek reached out to the Biden’s campaign for comment.