Former Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday called on Democrats to "use the power" of their new majority to pack federal courts, according to The Washington Times.
"Having won control of the White House and Congress, now is the time to strike," Holder said on a Brookings Institute virtual conference panel on judicial reform, adding that it would be "totally appropriate" to add new seats on the US Supreme Court.
President Joe Biden avoided answering questions about court packing and said during an Arizona campaign stop in October, "They'll know my opinion on court-packing when the election is over."
Holder added, "It is painfully clear Democrats and progressives are uncomfortable with the acquisition and use of power while Republicans and conservatives never have been. Our courts badly need reforms."
Holder did not offer a recommendation of the number of Supreme Court justices but did say that "The Republicans have abused their power to give themselves an unfair advantage. It is necessary, and totally appropriate to add seats."
The number of justices expanded from nine to thirteen in 1869 and has remained the at nine ever since.
The idea of expanding the Supreme Court to outnumber what Democrats feel is a conservative majority on the court became a focus during the 2020 campaign after former President Trump appointed three conservative justices during his term in office.
Holder also spoke in favor of expanding appellate courts, and imposing term limits for federal judges, a position which currently carries a lifetime appointment.
According to the Washington Times, Holder's ideas "are expected to be explored by Mr. Biden's upcoming commission on the federal judiciary, although the makeup and focus of that commission remain unclear."
The majority of American's have supported preserving the status quo of justices on the Supreme Court. The Washington Times cited polling by the Coalition to Preserve an Independent Supreme Court, which is running a "Keep Nine" campaign. Coalition Director Roman Buhler said, "The coalition's own polling showed 62 percent favored keeping the number of justices at 9 while only 18 percent strongly favored expanding it."
During the virtual panel, Holder attacked Republicans for a perceived illegitimacy of the court. "What Mitch McConnell and Republicans have done is create a crisis of legitimacy," Holder said, referencing McConnell and Republicans who were in control of the Senate at the end of the Obama presidency, refusing to hold hearings on Obama Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Political rancor and partisanship over judicial nominees has been growing increasingly contentious since Democrats, led by then Senator Joe Biden demonized President Ronald Reagan's nominee Judge Robert Bork in 1987. The hearings were so vicious, it coined the phrase "borking" a nominee which was attempted against Justice Clarence Thomas during his hearings.
During the Obama administration, Democrats removed the Senate filibuster regarding federal judicial nominee which allowed President Barak Obama to stack the DC Circuit Court of Appeals with progressive judges.
In response, during the Trump administration, Republicans removed the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.
The concern over stacking the Supreme Court is that more justices being added each time the balance of power shifts between parties following each election, and the Court is intended to be an objective arbiter of weighing legislation against the Constitution.