pack the court

idiomatic phrase

: to increase the number of justices on a court and especially the United States Supreme Court causing the ideological makeup of the Court to shift
"… But if you want to increase the size of the court—pack the court, as it were—all you need is an act of Congress. …"David Kaplan
In the simplest terms, court packing is the mechanism of adding Supreme Court justices to a nine person Supreme Court. Packing the court is legal …Adam Ramer
The Supreme Court has had nine justices for more than 150 years, but the Constitution does not require nine. Congress sets that number. "Nine seems to be a good number. It's been that way for a long time," [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg told NPR in July 2019. "I think it was a bad idea when President Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the court."Megan Henney
Three new positions on the state Court of Appeals were created unlawfully by the Legislature and must be eliminated, a lawyer for a Republican state lawmaker told a judge Friday. Attorneys … argued … over what GOP legislators describe as a move by former Gov. Jim Hunt to pack the court with Democrats.Gary D. Robertson
President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously tried to pack the Supreme Court in 1937.Collin Peterson and Denver Riggleman

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Progressives routinely complain that the Supreme Court thwarts popular will — which is why some want to pack the court. Daric L. Cottingham, Los Angeles Times, 11 Aug. 2021 What are the implications of new calls to pack the court? Noah Robertson, The Christian Science Monitor, 7 Oct. 2020 Try to change inconvenient ancient rules: seek to pack the court, end the filibuster, junk the Electoral College, and bring in two more states. Victor Davis Hanson, Arkansas Online, 5 Dec. 2022 Fallon and fellow critics have blasted Biden’s court-packing commission for including members opposed to expanding the Supreme Court and producing a report rather than recommendations on whether to pack the court. Houston Keene, Fox News, 18 May 2021 Few -- if any -- really believe the workload is why progressives want to pack the court now. Elizabeth Slattery, CNN, 19 Apr. 2021 DaBaby said pack the court!!! Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, 15 Mar. 2021 Hanging over the proceedings was the Democratic threat to pack the court—to expand its size, creating new vacancies for liberal judges to fill—if Mr. Biden is elected. Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, 15 Oct. 2020 When asked about the Supreme Court, Harris, like Biden, dodged the question on whether or not a Biden-Harris administration would pack the court, which is basically adding more seats to the highest court in the land. Siraj Hashmi, Washington Examiner, 9 Oct. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pack the court.' 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

1835, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of pack the court was in 1835

Dictionary Entries Near pack the court

Cite this Entry

“Pack the court.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!