The number of US Supreme Court judges ranged between 5 and 10 during the first years of the Republic.
John Adams was in the final weeks of his presidency when Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth announced he was retiring from the Supreme Court. It was December 1800. Adams had just lost a bitterly contested presidential election to his fellow Founder Thomas Jefferson. In late January of 1801, Adams filled the vacancy by appointing Secretary of State John Marshall as the new Chief Justice. It is also important to note that Adams was firmly in the camp of "strong central government, states rights are just a nice luxury" as he stated and is reported in history books.
Andrew Jackson was able to beef the number of judges to 10 in 1837 but this number was reduced to 7 in 1866 and established firmly at 9 since 1869.
Congress wasn’t the only branch of government to attempt to alter the power structure. President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed a reorganization bill to Congress that would allow the president to appoint a new justice for each one who was at least 70 years old. In spite of having a Democratic majority in the House and Senate, Congress did not oblige, of course: this was seen as a court-packing scheme that would have given Roosevelt too much power.
Roosevelt was “corrupted by power, in my view,” Biden said, and it took an act of “courage” for fellow Democrats to stop him. Those are Joe Biden’s 2005 remarks referring to court-packing as a "power grab".
“I have heard that there are some people on the Democratic side who would like to increase the number of judges,” said the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in an interview last year. “If anything would make the court look partisan, it would be that,” Ginsburg said. “One side saying, ‘When we’re in power, we’re going to enlarge the number of judges, so we would have more people who would vote the way we want them to.’”
Something to remember nowadays facing the project to add no less than 6 new judges to the Supreme Court. Packing the Supreme Court to such an extent gives an excessive amount of power to the majority party in government. Here is one question that promoters of Supreme Court radical expansion avoid answering: Why should the number of judges be increased? Sometimes we hear that the intention is to balance the Court in favor of the "liberal" sector. But this means that the intention is to politicize the Supreme Court; that is to deviate the Judicial Power from its required impartiality.
This is extremely disturbing because it brings to mind how Hugo Chávez in Venezuela consolidated his power, greatly increasing the number of judges in the Supreme Court and thus ensuring the complicity of the Judicial Power with his dictatorial projects.
Let us hope the United States will not be taking this authoritarian path under the current Administration.