Here's How Republicans Plan to Keep SCOTUS at Nine Seats

Posted: Mar 20, 2019 11:18 AM
Here's How Republicans Plan to Keep SCOTUS at Nine Seats

Source: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

We've recently reported on the Democrats' intentions of trying to expand the Supreme Court in hopes of getting revenge on Mitch McConnell. The Senate Majority Leader blocked President Obama nominee Merrick Garland, who he intended to replace the late Antonin Scalia. McConnell kept the seat open for President Trump to appoint a more conservative individual. And then another after that. With the Court now clearly skewed to the right, progressives have begun to seriously consider upending the norm. 

"Given the Merrick Garland situation, the question of legitimacy is one that I think we should actually talk about," Holder said earlier this month. "We should be talking even about expanding the number of people who serve on the Supreme Court, if there is a Democratic President and a Congress that might be willing to do that.”

As Guy has noted, McConnell's Garland strategy was hardly unprecedented.

Yet, at least two people vying for the 2020 Democratic nomination, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, have voiced support for the plan.

Republicans plan to fight back. Legislators from both the House and the Senate are prepared to present an amendment to keep the Supreme Court status quo.

"This Thursday, I will be introducing a constitutional amendment that would limit the number of Supreme Court justices to 9 - the number of seats since 1869," Rep. Mark Green (R-TN) noted on Tuesday. "The Supreme Court must remain a fair and impartial branch of government not beholden to 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."

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) explained in a Fox News op-ed why he's leading the charge in the Senate.

"Court packing is quickly becoming a litmus test for 2020 Democratic candidates as this ugly, winner-take-all rhetoric gains prominence in progressive circles," he regrets.

To prevent the delegitimizing of the Supreme Court, I will introduce a constitutional amendment to keep the number of seats at nine. 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.

The Supreme Court as of late has made progressives worry. Just on Tuesday, the justices overturned a a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, granting the Department of Homeland Security legal authority to detain illegal immigrants after they have been through a court hearing.