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Noah Feldman

The Incredible Shrinking Supreme Court

It sounds extreme, but Senate obstruction could keep the bench from reaching nine justices for a long time.
It's taller than it looks.

It's taller than it looks.

Photographer: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Senate Republicans changed the rules of the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation game by blocking President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Now it’s the Democrats’ turn to make the next move.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has signaled that the Democrats will filibuster almost any nominee proposed by Donald Trump. Although the Republicans could break the filibuster by invoking the so-called nuclear option, it isn’t certain that they will be able to do so. That would leave the court with eight members for the foreseeable future -- and potentially create circumstances where vacancies can only be filled when the president and 60 senators come from the same party.