Senate

Rubio to introduce legislation to keep Supreme Court at 9 seats

Stefani Reynolds
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Wednesday he plans to introduce a constitutional amendment to limit the Supreme Court to nine justices after some Democrats have floated expanding the number of seats on the high court.
 
“To prevent the delegitimizing of the Supreme Court, I will introduce a constitutional amendment to keep the number of seats at nine,” Rubio wrote in a Fox News op-ed published Wednesday.
 
“There is nothing magical about the number nine. It is not inherently right just because the number of seats on the Supreme Court remains unchanged since 1869. But there is something inherently good and important about preventing the further destabilization of essential institutions,” Rubio added.{mosads}
 
The proposal comes as several Democratic White House contenders, including a handful that are Rubio’s Senate colleagues, have 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. Republicans also nixed the 60-vote filibuster for Supreme Court justices in 2017 in order to confirm Trump’s first pick for the high court, Neil Gorsuch.
 
But Republicans have lashed out at the talk of expanding the Supreme Court, arguing that it’s another sign of the Democratic Party’s shift to the left ahead of the 2020 election. 
 

In the lower chamber, Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) said Tuesday that he would also introduce a constitutional amendment to maintain the current nine seats, though his proposal is unlikely to go anywhere in the Democratic-controlled House.

 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hasn’t weighed in on the current Supreme Court fight, or the prospects that he would bring legislation on the issue up for a vote.
 
But GOP senators have been willing to use the chamber to try to drive a wedge between Democratic lawmakers and their progressive base ahead of 2020, with McConnell forcing a vote on the Green New Deal next week. 
 

Rubio added in the Fox News op-ed 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. 

“We are suffering a crisis of confidence and we cannot withstand further erosion of trust in one another and our institutions. The rhetoric used by some of my Democratic colleagues that suggests our institutions are increasingly unable to resolve modern society’s conflicts is dangerous,” he added. 
Tags Constitutional amendment Court packing Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Kirsten Gillibrand Marco Rubio Mark Green Mitch McConnell Supreme Court

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