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Pingree co-sponsors long-shot effort to expand U.S. Supreme Court by four members

Chellie Pingree
Robert F. Bukaty
U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, speaks at a news conference in Portland, Maine, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District is signing onto a bill that would expand the U.S. Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices.

Pingree's decision to co-sponsor the legislation comes amid increasing complaints from Democrats that the high court has become too political, too conservative and poses a grave threat to a range of issues, including voting and abortion rights.

In a statement, Pingree says she was motivated to co-sponsor the bill after the court's conservative justices allowed a Texas abortion ban to go into effect, despite the certain legal challenges it faces.

“In over a century, we have not had a more partisan Supreme Court than the one we have today. We must expand the court to balance the rightwing court-packing that happened under former President Trump,” she said. “Last month, these justices failed to act and allowed a near-half-century precedent to be discarded without a second thought. Our laws must be interpreted by neutral jurists who are driven by fact and precedent, not partisans bent on attacking our constitutional rights."

The proposal faces long odds for passage because even Democrats aren't united on expanding the size of the court.

Republicans, who added three conservative justices under President Donald Trump and blocked another pick by President Barack Obama, are unified against it.

Congress can expand the court without a constitutional amendment. It's done so seven times, but not since 1869.