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House Republican proposes constitutional amendment to prevent Supreme Court expansion

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), the head of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, introduced a proposed constitutional amendment on Thursday to maintain the size of the Supreme Court at nine justices.

The amendment, which has no path to succeed with Democrats controlling both chambers of Congress, is a response to a bill introduced by Democrats that proposes expanding the size of the Supreme Court from nine justices to 13.

"The Supreme Court must faithfully interpret the Constitution. We cannot allow it to fall victim to partisan attempts to pack it with far-left radicals," Biggs said in a statement. "This desperate power-grab by Democrats will only further divide our Nation. I will not stand for a 'Supreme Coup' of our highest court."

The amendment, a copy of which was obtained by The Hill, would state: "The Supreme Court of the United States shall be composed of nine justices consisting of one chief justice and eight associate justices."

For a constitutional amendment to succeed, two-thirds of both chambers of Congress must approve the language. Two-thirds of state legislatures would have to support holding a constitutional convention, and three-fourths of state legislatures would have to ratify the amendment.

While Biggs's proposal won't go anywhere in Congress, it underscores the degree to which conservatives may try and hit Democrats over discussions on whether to expand the size of the Supreme Court.

Democratic Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (N.Y.) and Reps. Hank Johnson (Ga.) and Mondaire Jones (N.Y.) earlier Thursday unveiled legislation that would increase the size of the high court to 13 seats. There are currently nine justices, with six appointed by Republican presidents and three appointed by Democratic presidents.

"We are here today because the United States Supreme Court is broken, it is out of balance and it needs to be fixed. Too many Americans view our highest court in the land as a partisan, political institution, not our impartial judicial branch of government," Markey said at a press conference.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said she does not plan to bring the bill up for a vote in the House, reflecting that the bill is unlikely to garner support even from all Democrats.

Supreme Court expansion, or court packing, became a topic of debate during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, with candidates floating various ideas to try and restore balance to the court.

President Biden earlier this week announced the creation of a commission to study the issue of court expansion, but he has not weighed in explicitly on whether he supports the idea.

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