Democrats have floated the idea of “packing” the Supreme Court throughout former President Donald Trump’s tenure, particularly in 2020 after Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed in place of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
In a bid to prevent the court’s expansion, a number of Senate Republicans have resubmitted legislation proposing a constitutional amendment that would lock in the Supreme Court bench at nine members, Fox News reported.
Amend the Constitution
Given the current 6-3 split of the bench in favor of Republicans, Democrats would need to expand the court by at least four members, all nominated by Biden, in order to meet and surpass the conservative majority, making the court a 13-member 7-6 split in favor of Democrats.
That isn’t going to happen if Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) — the original sponsor of the S.J.Res 14 bill in 2019 — have anything to say about it.
According to a press release from Capito’s office, the two senators have already been joined by ten other Republicans as co-sponsors of the resolution that, by way of an amendment to the Constitution, would permanently set the size of the Supreme Court bench at nine members.
“Another partisan branch”
“A nine Justice court has worked for our country for more than 150 years. Increasing that number in a partisan effort to achieve a desired policy result is a never-ending proposition,” Capito said in a statement. “Once this door is opened, respect for the Supreme Court as an independent arbiter of cases and controversies would fall away as it became another partisan branch of government.”
“We should preserve our independent judiciary by closing the door to court-packing,” she added. “Ratification of this amendment would stop the Democrats’ current desire to pack the courts. It would also remove the temptation for either party to attempt to restructure the court in a partisan way in the future.”
Capito’s release noted that the Supreme Court has been set at nine members since 1869 and has worked well at that number over the proceeding century and a half — that is, until now, when Democrats are intent on seizing power and control by any means, including by upending longstanding norms and traditions.
Biden punted on the issue
Congressional Democrats will need President Joe Biden’s approval to even begin to try to pack the court with liberal jurists.
Biden attempted to dodge questions on court-packing throughout the 2020 campaign but finally appeared to give a direct response to the issue in an October interview with CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell, Politico reported.
“If elected, what I will do is I’ll put together a national commission of — bipartisan commission of scholars, constitutional scholars, Democrats, Republicans, liberal, conservative,” Biden said at that time. “And I will ask them to over 180 days come back to me with recommendations as to how to reform the court system because it’s getting out of whack.”
Fox News noted that neither the White House nor Senate Democrats had any response to questions about Capito’s resubmission of the resolution against court-packing, nor has Biden made that promised move to establish a commission as of yet.