Court-Expansion in the U.S. and Abroad

This paper gives an overview of all instances of Supreme Court expansion in the U.S. and compares them cases of court-expansion abroad. I argue that the all seven U.S. statutes changing the size of the court have all sought to improve court-performance that nonetheless benefit one political party. The rules for when such changes were acceptable were widely known and accepted by both political parties. Hence, there is no historical precedent for today’s partisans of court-packing. Drawing from the cases of Turkey, Hungary, and Venezuela, I argue that court-expansion abroad is not analogous to current partisan proposals in the United States and that the role of court-packing in the establishment of semi-authoritarian regimes has been greatly exaggerated. Just as advocates of court-packing are wrong to cite U.S history, so too are opponents incorrect to draw parallels with court-packing outside the United States.