Q&A with Alaska U.S. House candidates: Would you support expanding the size of the Supreme Court?

The Anchorage Daily News asked candidates for U.S. House running in the special primary election to answer a series of questions. Read all of their responses here.

Would you support a bill, if it came before the House, to expand the size of the U.S. Supreme Court? Why or why not?

Jay R. Armstrong (R)

I would never support a bill to expand the size of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tim Beck (undeclared)

I feel proportional representation would be best for our nation.

Nick Begich (R)

No. Nine justices is sufficient to carry out the business of the court.


Gregg B. Brelsford (undeclared)

I am an independent candidate, and an institutionalist. The court is a venerable body, imbued with great dignity and worthy of great respect. However, a recent Republican president, leading Republican senators and disingenuous testimony by three recent Republican nominees have shamefully dragged the court down to the level of tawdry, hardball, partisan politics. I grieve at the extreme loss of dignity that Republicans have inflicted upon the court. Sadly, if this is the new normal, I am now leaning toward changing the size of the court, but have not yet come to that final position.

Robert Brown (nonpartisan)

Yes, I think more justices would add to the discourse of deliberations.

Arlene Carle (nonpartisan)

The Supreme Court only hears appeals involving constitutional issues. With 160 court employees, that’s 17 employees for each of the nine justices. To prevent tie votes, the court would have to add two more justices. That’s 34 additional employees. For what purpose? Because the administration doesn’t like the balance between liberal and conservative justices? Administrations come, and administrations go. Are we to expand the court every time a new administration doesn’t like the court balance? I am for reducing the size of government, not increasing it. I would not support the bill.

Santa Claus (undeclared)

Yes. The current Supreme Court caseload is overwhelming, and I am inclined to expand the Supreme Court’s size. Last year, the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States examined the length of service and turnover of justices on the court, its membership and size, and its case selection, rules and practices. The final report lists pros and cons regarding expanding the size of the Court. One commission member went as far as to write that they no longer had confidence in the basic legitimacy of the Supreme Court.

John B. Coghill Jr. (R)

No. I’m not in favor of court packing.

Christopher S. Constant (D)

The court increasingly resembles a partisan body. This is the result of decades of work by groups like the Federalist Society. A third of the court was appointed by Trump, the most partisan president in modern history. All said Roe v. Wade was established law during their confirmation, then immediately set about overturning the law. The makeup of the court today in no way resembles the will of the American people and is usurping unprecedented power. If the court does indeed continue a transformation from a judicial body to a de facto political body, I would support expansion.

Otto H. Florschutz III (R)

Absolutely not. We have nine highly educated people hearing and deciding these cases. I can’t see how there is not enough IQ power in the nine that they cannot make a sound decision. Having 11, 13, 15, etc. will absolutely not solve any perceived problems other than kindle short-term rage.

Al Gross (nonpartisan)

No. It sets a dangerous precedent that could backfire in the future.

Andrew J. Halcro (nonpartisan)


No. I don’t believe expanding the court would accomplish anything positive. Given the events of the recent weeks where several justices proved themselves as having been dishonest during their confirmation hearings, I would support confirmation reforms.

Ted S. Heintz (Libertarian)

No. That would lead to increased politicization and abuse. If something is dysfunctional, making it bigger or more powerful is never the answer. That applies to government bureaucracy and administration in general too.

William “Bill” D. Hibler III (nonpartisan)

Absolutely not! The federal government is built on three independent branches of government. This is legislative overreach, and an attempt by so-called progressive Democrats to weaken our federalist constitutional system. Attempts like this are the main reason that although a former Democrat, I would caucus with Republicans in Congress if elected.

Jeff B. Lowenfels (nonpartisan)

No. Packing the court is only a temporary fix that could ultimately backfire, but I am strongly in favor of term limits for Supreme Court justices (as well as House and Senate seats).

Mike E. Melander (R)


No. Nine is enough.

Mike Milligan (D)

Republicans have been trying to expand the 9th Circuit Court for decades. So court expansion has been around. I’m concerned that Supreme Court candidates may have lied under oath. Anyway, this usually plays out in the Senate as they approve appointees. This may be just too much on the plate for the public right now. Many of us also want to see if Republican bluster over the Supreme Court leak will continue, if it turns out that the legal draft was made public by a conservative law clerk.

J.R. Myers (Libertarian)

No, nine justices is a good number for balance. Any larger court would be unwieldy. Now, more than ever, we need to stabilize the Supreme Court and its public credibility.

Robert Ornelas (American Independent Party)

I oppose packing (expanding) the court.

Sarah Palin (R)

No. Packing the Supreme Court would be a nakedly partisan power grab. The Democratic Party’s aim is to use the Supreme Court to achieve policy goals that they could never achieve through the normal democratic process in our republic.

Silvio E. Pellegrini (undeclared)

Certainly not. We must accept at times in a democracy that we may not always agree with one another. Seeking ways to manipulate the system to receive the outcome you wish is a bastardization of the powers delegated to our representatives that may ultimately be exploited for nefarious reasons. Even if I disagreed with a Supreme Court ruling, the first act of the legislator is not to change the system to alter balance for preferential outcome, but rather write or rescind the laws in a way that gives the Supreme Court a desired interpretation that best reflects the needs of the people.

Mary S. Peltola (D)



Tara M. Sweeney (R)

I do not support expanding the size of the Supreme Court. Legislating an expansion would set a reckless precedent and create instability in this institution based on which political party is currently in power.

Adam L. Wool (D)

I believe the Supreme Court has become highly politicized. The decision in the past by the Senate president not to hold confirmation hearings in the same year as a presidential election and then subsequently to hold hearings one month before a presidential election point out the hypocrisy and politicization of the process. Something needs to be done. I don’t think Supreme Court justices should have a lifetime appointment and I am not necessarily against adding more seats if that is what is needed to bring more balance to the current court. It’s been done before.

Stephen Wright (R)


No, our state Supreme Court needs to be revamped to be more like the federal courts. I am for a state constitutional convention.

• • •

Multiple candidates did not respond to this survey question. They include:

• Dennis “Denny” W. Aguayo (nonpartisan)

• Brian T. Beal (undeclared)

• Chris Bye (Libertarian)

• John T. Callahan (R)

• Lady Donna Dutchess (nonpartisan)

• Laurel A. Foster (nonpartisan)

• Thomas “Tom” R. Gibbons (R)

• Karyn Griffin (undeclared)

• John Wayne Howe (Alaska Independence Party)

• David Hughes (undeclared)

• Don Knight (nonpartisan)

• Robert “Bob” Lyons (R)

• Anne M. McCabe (nonpartisan)

• Sherry M. Mettler (undeclared)

• Emil Notti (D)

• Joshua C. Revak (R)

• Maxwell Sumner (R)

• David Thistle (undeclared)

• Ernest F. Thomas (D)

• Richard “Clayton” Trotter (R)

• Bradley D. Welter (R)

• Jason G. Williams (undeclared)

• Jo Woodward (R)