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Senate GOP proposes constitutional amendment to keep Supreme Court at 9 seats

Senate Republicans are moving to keep the Supreme Court at nine justices as a growing number of Democratic 2020 contenders have expressed an openness to expanding it. 

 

Roughly a dozen Republican senators introduced the resolution on Monday that would keep the Supreme Court at nine justices. 

 

"The Democrats' court-packing proposal represents the latest shortsighted effort to undermine America's confidence in our institutions and our democracy," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who spearheaded the resolution, said in a statement.

 

He added that he was introducing the constitutional amendment "to prevent the delegitimizing of the Supreme Court."

 

GOP Sens. Pat Toomey (Pa.), Kevin Cramer (N.D.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Todd Young (Ind.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.), John Hoeven (N.D.), Mike Lee (Utah), Ben Sasse (Neb.), Mitt Romney (Utah), Mike Crapo (Idaho), and Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va) are cosponsoring the resolution. 

 

The Senate resolution would specify that the Supreme Court "shall be composed of not more than 9 justices." A similar resolution was introduced in the House late last week. 

 

Enacting a constitutional amendment would be an uphill battle, if not an impossible goal. The amendment would first need to win over two-thirds of both chambers of Congress, and then be ratified by three-fourths of the states.

 

But Rubio first announced last week that he would introduce the amendment after several Democratic White House contenders, including a handful that are Rubio's Senate colleagues, expressed an openness to expanding the Supreme Court or enacting other judicial reforms, including term limits. 

 

Both Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) have said expanding, or "packing," the court should be an option on the table as part of a larger conversation among Democrats about the direction of the U.S. judicial system.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) told "Pod Save America" that the idea was "interesting" and she would "need to think more about it."

 

Supporters argue that President Trump and congressional Republicans have been able to pack the courts with conservative judges, including two Supreme Court justices and dozens of appeals court nominees.

But Rubio countered in a Fox News op-ed last week that trying to expand the courts had become a "litmus test" for White House hopefuls and stemmed from an "ugly, winner-take-all rhetoric" among progressives.

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