But the political feasibility of the court-packing plan remains a concern. Khanna, one of the few, if not the only national elected official to come out in favor of a fundamental revamping of the court, says that what’s needed is a reframing of the issue, one that moves away from the historically tainted term “court-packing.”
“I think we could sell it to the public if it’s framed as modern-day court reform,” he told me. One of Khanna’s proposals is an 18-year term limit for justices, after which they would be sent back to sit on circuit courts. “Most Americans love term limits,” he said.
Realistically, Khanna said that it would take a bipartisan plan created by legal scholars on both sides of the aisle for the idea to gain political legitimacy, and that any expansion of the court should require a supermajority to pass through the Senate so that it’s seen as nonideological. That’s going to require moderate Republicans to get on board. “You can imagine a Democratic president would need a Sen. Romney to get to 67 votes,” he said.
Both Khanna and Favreau said it wouldn’t surprise them if 2020 Democratic presidential contenders talked about court-packing or were questioned about reforms during the campaign.