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Intelligence Squared Debate: Should We Expand the Supreme Court?

Right now, nine justices hold tremendous power in American law. It's been that way since Ulysses S. Grant first inhabited the White House. The Constitution is silent on just how many justices should sit on the nation's top bench, and in 1937 President Roosevelt tried to add a slew of new appointments that would be sympathetic to his New Deal programs. Congress didn't bite.

Now, advocates on the left are eyeing the bench once again. They see a Supreme Court out of touch with the American electorate, obstructed by partisan interests, and rendered illegitimate by years of controversial appointments. But those opposed are sounding the alarms. A move to dramatically change one of the three core pillars of American government would ultimately undermine the court’s legitimacy. It’s not perfect, they argue. But the court has consistently shown its independence and should not be compromised as a result of partisan ambitions. So, in light of this emerging divide, Intelligence Squared U.S. in partnership with The Newt and Jo Minow Debate Series at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law asks this question: Is it okay to expand the court?

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