President Joe Biden never cleared up whether he would try to pack the Supreme Court with additional justices, but Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is preempting the possibility.
The Texas Republican just introduced a pair of measures — including a long-shot amendment to the Constitution — guaranteeing that there are only ever nine justices on the Supreme Court, Fox News reports.
Cruz makes his move
The first proposal, called the “Keep Nine” amendment, simply affirms that the Supreme Court maintain its current size. The Constitution does not specify how large the Court should be, but it has had nine justices since the 19th century, Fox notes.
Cruz also proposed a piece of legislation that would block Democrats from packing the court.
The Republican lawmaker originally brought the measures in October, when calls to pack the court escalated in the final weeks before the 2020 election, but he is re-upping them now that Biden is in office.
“As my Democrat colleagues brazenly discuss expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court, this legislation and constitutional amendment ensures we prevent either party from wielding the Supreme Court as a political tool for their own advantage,” Cruz said in a statement, according to Fox.
The senator went on: “I urge my colleagues to defend the fundamental liberties of their constituents — their religious liberty, freedom of speech, and Second Amendment rights — and swiftly take up and pass these proposals to prevent Court-packing.”
Biden backs court “reform”
Throughout Donald Trump’s former presidency, Democrats talked up packing the court as a way of restoring the “credibility” it supposedly had lost from a rightward shift.
Trump nominated and saw confirmed three Supreme Court justices: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. Liberals have long complained that Republicans “stole” Gorsuch’s seat from Judge Merrick Garland, whose confirmation then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked in 2016.
Calls on the left to pack the court escalated last fall during Barrett’s confirmation hearings, which followed the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. When pressed on the campaign trail, Biden refused to say whether he agreed with liberals calling to expand the court, leaving critics outraged and alarmed.
Cruz was just one critic who interpreted Biden’s silence at the time as a tacit admission that he would indeed pack the court.
Biden has since launched a “bipartisan commission” to investigate the issue, saying he “remains committed to an expert study of the role and debate over reform of the court and will have more to say in the coming weeks,” according to Politico.