Republicans propose constitutional amendment that would set number of Supreme Court justices at nine

Six House Republicans announced that they will introduce a constitutional amendment aimed at setting the number of Supreme Court justices at nine in response to calls from Democrats to pack the court as well as a commission ordered by President Biden.

The proposed amendment is sponsored by Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher along with New York Rep. Chris Jacobs, Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, North Carolina Rep. Ted Budd, and Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin. This was introduced due to President Biden’s 36-member commission which would study not only adding justices to the court but also other potential reforms such as “the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court’s case selection, rules, and practices.” However, Republicans have argued that the commission is a cover for a politically motivated effort to alter the Supreme Court. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the commission a “direct assault on our nation’s independent judiciary.”

The constitutional amendment introduced by Rep. Gallagher would order that “The Supreme Court shall be composed of not more than nine justices.” Rep. Gallagher expressed that “We don’t need a commission to know court-packing is a radical idea that would undermine confidence in one of our country’s most important — and trusted — institutions.” He continued, “The Supreme Court has been comprised of nine justices for more than 150 years, and it’s time we amend the Constitution to make this long-standing precedent permanent before it’s too late.” In an interview with Fox News, Rep. Gallagher stated, “It seems like a proposal which was once considered the fringiest of fringy proposals on the radical left is now increasingly mainstream.” He added, “A constitutional amendment that just sets the number at nine, I think would bring stability to the country by taking this extreme and dangerous proposal off the table.”

According to the Constitution, the number of justices on the Supreme Court, along with the general composition of the federal judiciary, is set by Congress. This means that adding justices to the Supreme Court would not be unconstitutional as that is firmly within Congress’ purview. Nevertheless, the number of justices has been set at nine since the end of the Civil War. Now, Democrats are calling on Congress to “expand” the court as they’re upset about rulings against their priorities and that former President Trump was able to appoint three justices in just four years. By “expanding” the court, President Biden can appoint more justices of his own. Although, in 1983, Biden called the court-packing effort a “bonehead idea” when he was a senator. While on the campaign trail, President Biden was frequently asked about his stance on court-packing. However, he said he wouldn’t tell voters his opinion until after the election. As of now, the president has not made a statement on whether or not he supports court-packing.





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