court-pack·​ing ˈkȯrt-ˌpa-kiŋ How to pronounce court-packing (audio)
variants or less commonly court packing
: the act or practice of packing (see pack entry 3 sense 1) a court and especially the United States Supreme Court by increasing the number of judges or justices in an attempt to change the ideological makeup of the court
"Court-packing adds new seats to a court in order to alter its partisan balance. …"Darrell West
What is court packing? Packing the courts is the idea of adding justices to the Supreme Court or lower courts to shift the balance in a liberal, conservative or other direction. And it wouldn't require changing the constitution, either.Jared Gilmour
court-packing, for example, seems likely to set off a tit-for-tat expansion of the court that would benefit no one …Sheri Berman
He angers the left if he says he still opposes court-packing, and he runs a risk with the center if he says he is open to it.Henry Olsen
often used before another noun
No president has tried to change the size of the court since 1937, when Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced what came to be known as his court-packing plan.Adam Liptak
A court-packing war over the lower federal courts might be almost as damaging as a similar conflict over the Supreme Court.Ilya Somin
… a reader in search of deeper understanding of the popular and intellectual currents behind the conservative court-packing campaign is likely to be disappointed.Stuart Taylor, Jr.

Examples of court-packing in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Biden’s blue-ribbon panel was widely seen as a repudiation of progressive calls for court-packing, such panels being, in Washington, where ideas go to die. Ian MacDougall, Harper's Magazine, 12 Sep. 2022 In response to calls for court-packing, the Biden Administration assembled a blue-ribbon panel on court reform. Ian MacDougall, Harper's Magazine, 12 Sep. 2022 Senator Whitehouse has devoted himself to tracking dark money, especially money aimed at reshaping the law and court-packing. Nina Burleigh, The New Republic, 16 May 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'court-packing.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1897, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of court-packing was in 1897

Dictionary Entries Near court-packing

Cite this Entry

“Court-packing.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Oct. 2023.

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