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Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Democratic lawmakers on Thursday introduced a bill in the House to expand the Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices.

Why it matters: The bill would allow President Biden to immediately nominate four people to fill the new seats, reshaping the balance of power on a court that became solidly conservative after three vacancies were filled by former President Trump.

The big picture: Some progressives have pushed for expanding the court after Republicans quickly filled former Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat during an election year.

  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had previously denied a confirmation hearing for former President Obama's nomination to fill a vacancy because it occurred during an election year and Republicans held the Senate.
  • "Our democracy is under assault, and the Supreme Court has dealt the sharpest blows. To restore power to the people, we must #ExpandTheCourt," tweeted Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), a progressive freshman and co-sponsor of the bill.

Details: The Judiciary Act of 2021 amends a federal law provision to read that the Court will consist of a chief justice "and twelve associate justices, any eight of whom shall constitute a quorum."

  • It is being introduced by Jones, House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) in the House, and by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) in the Senate.

Between the lines: The legislation is unlikely to pass considering the slim majority Democrats hold in the Senate. Key Democratic senators, such as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), do not support packing the court.

  • Biden has also said he is "not a fan" of increasing the number of seats on the Supreme Court.
  • Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer warned that efforts to expand the court's bench could damage public faith in the institution, stating that Americans rely on "a trust that the court is guided by legal principle, not politics."

What to watch: Biden last week signed an executive order to create a six-month bipartisan commission to study a number of Supreme Court reforms, including expanding the number of seats on the court.

Worth noting: While the U.S. Constitution states that there must be a Supreme Court, it does not specifically state how many justices it should have.

Go deeper

CDC says fully vaccinated people don't have to wear masks indoors

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Erin Clark-Pool/Getty Images

The CDC announced in new guidance Thursday that anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, regardless of crowd size.

What they're saying: "If you are fully vaccinated, you are protected, and you can start doing the things that you stopped doing because of the pandemic," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky will say at a White House press briefing.

Colonial Pipeline reportedly paid hackers nearly $5 million in ransom

Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images

Colonial Pipeline paid hackers linked to the DarkSide cybercrime group nearly $5 million in cryptocurrency after last week's ransomware attack, Bloomberg first reported and the New York Times confirmed.

Why it matters: The breach of the largest refined fuels pipeline in the U.S. triggered new concerns about the vulnerability of the country's increasingly digitized energy systems.

Biden warns gas stations not to price gouge: "That's not who we are"

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday warned gas companies to not price gouge amid major shortages following the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack.

The big picture: Biden added that the FBI does not believe the Russian government is behind the attack, but they do know that those responsible "are living in Russia."