Law & the Courts

GOP Rep. Proposes Constitutional Amendment to Keep SCOTUS at Nine Justices

Supreme Court justices pose for their group portrait at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., November 30, 2018. (Jim Young/REUTERS)

Republican representative Mark Green on Thursday introduced a constitutional amendment that would freeze the number of Supreme Court seats at nine, just as some Democrats look to add more seats to the Court.

“The temptation to create a Court of super-legislators must be resisted,” read a statement from Green. “Limiting the number of seats to the nine we have currently would help ensure the U.S. Supreme Court remains an impartial branch beholden to the Constitution and no political party.”

“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,” Green said earlier this week when he announced his intention to introduce the constitutional amendment.

Several Democratic presidential candidates have expressed a willingness to expand the number of justices on the Court, while some other Democratic lawmakers have indicated that they think the move is unnecessary.

Senator Kamala Harris said “everything is on the table” to tackle the challenge of the “crisis of confidence in the Supreme Court.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren, running against Harris for the Democratic nomination in 2020, said that, “It’s not just about expansion; it’s about depoliticizing the Supreme Court.”

Former representative Beto O’Rourke also said he was open to a more complicated system, with five justices selected by Democrats, five selected by Republicans, and five more independent justices picked by the first ten.

Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein, however, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has expressed skepticism, saying nine justices is “appropriate.”

Two of President Trump’s conservative picks — Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — have been confirmed to the Supreme Court since he took office. Democrats remain outraged that Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell refused to consider President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

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