House

GOP rep to introduce constitutional amendment to limit Supreme Court seats to 9

Greg Nash

Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) on Tuesday announced he will introduce a constitutional amendment this week to limit the number of Supreme Court justices to nine after several Democratic presidential candidates have floated the idea of expanding the high court’s bench. 

“This Thursday, I will be introducing a constitutional amendment that would limit the number of Supreme Court justices to 9 — the number of seats since 1869. The Supreme Court must remain a fair and impartial branch of government not beholden to party,” Green said in a statement.

{mosads}“Schemes to pack the court are dangerous to the Founders’ vision of an independent judiciary that serves as a check on both the Executive and Legislative branches of government,” he continued.

Green’s proposal comes in response to comments from several contenders in the 2020 Democratic primary pack who have expressed openness to boosting the number of Supreme Court justices in response to what they believe is recent politicization of the court.

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a 2020 Democratic hopeful, said that adding seats on the court is one way to keep it from being “basically ruined.”

“This central objective that is to prevent the Supreme Court from continuing on this trajectory to become basically ruined by being a nakedly political institution,” Buttigieg said during an interview with “Pod Save America.”

“This idea of adding justices is one way to do it,” he added. 

Buttigieg and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), another 2020 candidate, have suggested a reform allowing Republicans to appoint five justices and Democrats to appoint five justices. The 10 justices would then agree on five more justices, bringing the court’s total to 15 seats.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) have said the prospect of expanding the Supreme Court should be part of the larger conversation about how Democrats want to approach the 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.”

Other candidates have not shut down the idea of further discussing expanding the high court, but top Senate Democrats have not jumped in to back the idea.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has not weighed in on the prospect, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the current total of nine justices is “appropriate.” 

Republicans have lashed out at the idea, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) saying Democrats are “scrounging through the ash-heap of American history” for their ideas” and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of Senate GOP leadership, calling the prospect “radical.”

Democrats have been outraged at Republicans’ handling of the courts since they blocked Merrick Garland, Obama’s final Supreme Court nominee, from getting a committee hearing in 2016.

Republicans also used their united hold on the federal government from 2017 to 2019 to confirm several judges to federal posts.

Tags 2020 Democrats Charles Schumer Dianne Feinstein Elizabeth Warren House John Cornyn Kamala Harris Kirsten Gillibrand Mark Green Merrick Garland Mitch McConnell Senate Supreme Court expansion

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