changes to democracy

Would you support adding justices to ‘pack’ the Supreme Court?

Open to it

Open to it

Pete Buttigieg

Former mayor, South Bend, Ind.

Buttigieg's campaign told The Post on April 5 that he is open to adding justices to ‘pack’ the Supreme Court. "So, we definitely need to do structural reform on the Supreme Court. Adding justices can be part of the solution but not in and of itself, it’s not enough," Buttigieg told the Intercept. "What we’ve got to do is depoliticize it and one solution that I’ve been discussing in recent weeks is structuring it with 15 members but five of whom can only be seated by a unanimous consensus of the other 10."

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Pete Buttigieg
Buttigieg

Amy Klobuchar

U.S. senator, Minnesota

“I am open to it. It depends on what happens with the Senate if that's realistic,” Klobuchar told the New York Times. “My much more practical focus will be on immediately, when I become president, filling open judgeships.” Her campaign confirmed that position.

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Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar

Tom Steyer

Billionaire activist

“I support expanding the size of the Supreme Court,” Steyer told The Post.

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Tom Steyer
Steyer

Elizabeth Warren

U.S. senator, Massachusetts

“It’s not just about expansion, it’s about depoliticizing the Supreme Court,” Warren told Politico. “It’s a conversation that’s worth having.” At the October debate, Warren said, “people are talking about different options, and I think we may have to talk about them.”

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Elizabeth Warren
Warren

Andrew Yang

Tech entrepreneur

"I don’t believe it’s something that should be ruled out, particularly given the hyperpartisan behavior regarding Merrick Garland and recent Supreme Court appointments," Yang told The Post. "But I think other changes to the Supreme Court, such as imposing 18-year term limits, would be equally effective at making the court more modern and responsive and would introduce new justices on a regular timeline."

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Andrew Yang
Yang

Cory Booker (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, New Jersey

Booker is no longer running for president. “Our Supreme Court is way out of whack,” Booker said in New Hampshire. “I’m not sure right now what the best way of accomplishing that balance is ... I don't have all the solutions, but I feel the same urgency you do. I'm taking nothing off the table. But right now I really worry about a race to the bottom.”

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Cory Booker
Booker

Steve Bullock (Dropped out)

Governor, Montana

Bullock is no longer running for president. “I’ve argued in front of the Supreme Court, and I want to believe that it isn’t a political entity and that it doesn’t take sides,” Bullock told The Post. “Mitch McConnell injected politics into the Supreme Court when he refused to hold a hearing for Merrick Garland, damaging the institution’s credibility in the eyes of the American people. I’m open to discussion on different ways we can depoliticize the Supreme Court, including expanding the court.”

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Steve Bullock
Bullock

Kirsten Gillibrand (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, New York

Gillibrand is no longer running for president. Gillibrand told Politico that she is open to expanding the Supreme Court.

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Kirsten Gillibrand
Gillibrand

Kamala D. Harris (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, California

Harris is no longer running for president. “We are on the verge of a crisis of confidence in the Supreme Court,” Harris told Politico. “We have to take this challenge head on, and everything is on the table to do that.”

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Kamala Harris
Harris

Jay Inslee (Dropped out)

Governor, Washington state

Inslee is no longer running for president. "Mitch McConnell destroyed Americans’ faith in the Supreme Court to be fair and representative body by stealing a seat from Barack Obama and refusing to give Merrick Garland even a hearing. We must be thoughtful and considerate about any changes to the Supreme Court, but we also need to restore Americans’ faith in the court and restore the balance that McConnell broke. I'm open to any ideas and discussion on how to reset that balance."

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Jay Inslee
Inslee

Seth Moulton (Dropped out)

U.S. representative, Massachusetts

Moulton is no longer running for president. Court packing should "be on the table," Moulton told The Post. "You don't show up to a gun fight with a knife. You try to show up with a rocket."

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Seth Moulton
Moulton

No

No, does not support

Michael Bennet

U.S. senator, Colorado

“Having seen up close just how cynical and how vicious the tea party guys and the Freedom Caucus guys and Mitch McConnell have been, the last thing I want to do is be those guys,” Bennet told The Post at a coffee shop in March. “What I want to do is beat these guys so that we can begin to govern again.” Bennet slammed his head on the table four times when asked about other Democrats' embrace of court packing.

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Michael Bennet
Bennet

Joe Biden

Former vice president

“No, I’m not prepared to go on and try to pack the court, because we’ll live to rue that day,” Biden told Iowa Starting Line in July. At the October debate, Biden said, “I would not get into court packing. We add three justices; next time around, we lose control, they add three justices. We begin to lose any credibility the court has at all.”

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Joe Biden
Biden

Mike Bloomberg

Former New York mayor

Bloomberg does not support adding seats to the Supreme Court, he told The Post.

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Mike Bloomberg
Bloomberg

John Delaney

Former U.S. representative, Maryland

Delaney does not support adding seats to the Supreme Court, he told The Post.

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John Delaney
Delaney

Tulsi Gabbard

U.S. representative, Hawaii

Gabbard does not support adding seats to the Supreme Court, her campaign told The Post.

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Tulsi Gabbard
Gabbard

Bernie Sanders

U.S. senator, Vermont

"No," Sanders told The Post. "Once the process of packing the court starts, it could continue with each political party adding more judges when they have the power to do so."

Apr. 1: “My worry is that the next time the Republicans are in power, they’ll do the same thing. What may make sense is not term limits, but rotating them to the appeals court.”

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Bernie Sanders
Sanders

Julian Castro (Dropped out)

Former mayor, San Antonio

Castro is no longer running for president. Castro does not support adding seats to the Supreme Court, but is open to other reforms, he told The Post. “I wouldn't pack the court,” Castro said at the October debate. “You know, I think the plan that [Buttigieg] mentioned is an interesting one, but I actually believe, if we were selecting from one of those things, that the smarter move might be to look at term limits or having people cycle off from the appellate courts so that you would have a replenishment of perspective.”

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Julian Castro
Castro

Bill de Blasio (Dropped out)

Mayor, New York City

de Blasio is no longer running for president. “I do not think expanding the Supreme Court makes sense,” de Blasio told The New York Times.

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Bill de Blasio
de Blasio

John Hickenlooper (Dropped out)

Former governor, Colorado

Hickenlooper is no longer running for president. "I’m concerned by the precedent this could set" Hickenlooper told The Post. "As President I could add 5 seats but the next Republican president might then add 6 more. I am concerned about the current conservative composition of the Court and the threat it poses to core values like reproductive rights and civil rights. I also condemn the refusal of the Republican Senate to give President Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, a hearing or vote, and I would support reforms that require a vote on a president’s nominee within a set period."

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John Hickenlooper
Hickenlooper

Beto O'Rourke (Dropped out)

Former U.S. representative, Texas

O'Rourke is no longer running for president. O'Rourke does not support adding seats to the Supreme Court, his campaign told The Post.

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Beto O'Rourke
O'Rourke

Tim Ryan (Dropped out)

U.S. representative, Ohio

Ryan is no longer running for president. Ryan does not support adding seats to the Supreme Court, he told The Post.

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Tim Ryan
Ryan

Joe Sestak (Dropped out)

Former U.S. representative, Pennsylvania

Sestak is no longer running for president. Sestak does not support adding seats to the Supreme Court, he told The Post.

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Joe Sestak
Sestak

Eric Swalwell (Dropped out)

U.S. representative, California

Swalwell is no longer running for president. Swalwell told The Post that he wouldn’t consider it. “I don’t want to let these extraordinary times that President Trump has created lead us to too many extraordinary remedies, or for ideas like these to be alibis for failures to win and hold governing majorities,” he said.

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Eric Swalwell
Swalwell

Marianne Williamson (Dropped out)

Author

Williamson is no longer running for president. Williamson does not support adding seats to the Supreme Court, she told The Post.

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Marianne Williamson
Williamson

Unclear/No response

Unclear/No response

Deval Patrick

Former governor, Massachusetts

Patrick did not answer this question by publication.

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Deval Patrick
Patrick

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Background Liberals have increasingly called for the next Democratic president to unilaterally increase the number of Supreme Court justices. The left’s calls to do so grew after Senate Republicans’ successful attempt to block Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s 2016 nominee to the bench. President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously planned to pack the high court after its conservative members struck down parts of his popular legislative accomplishments, such as minimum wage increases. Roosevelt backed down from the plan after the court reversed its ruling on the minimum wage issue.

How candidate positions were compiled

The Washington Post sent a detailed questionnaire to every Democratic campaign asking whether it supports various changes to the Senate filibuster, U.S. elections and courts. Candidates with similar stances were organized into groups using a combination of those answers, legislative records, action taken in an executive role and other public comments, such as policy discussion on campaign websites, social media posts, interviews, town hall meetings and other news reports. See something we missed? Let us know.

This page will update as we learn more about the candidates’ plans. We also will note if candidates change their position on an issue. At initial publication, this page included major candidates who had announced a run for president. If a candidate dropped out after a question was published here, their stance is included under the "Show former candidates" option. If they dropped out before a question was first published, the Post did not reach out to get their stance.

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Candidate illustrations by Ben Kirchner.