A conservative House Republican has proposed an amendment to the Constitution that would permanently fix the number of Supreme Court justices at nine.
The proposal from House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., comes in response to recent talk from Democratic presidential candidates about packing the Supreme Court with extra judges if they gain control of the Oval Office in 2020.
“Schemes to ‘court pack’ thwart the Founders’ intent to create an independent and impartial judiciary that serves as a check on both the Executive and Legislative branches of government,” reads a press release from Green, who also explained that Democrats would pack the court with “liberal, activist justices who will pass rulings that conform to their dystopian, socialist agenda.”
Democrats, however, have portrayed the idea of court-packing as a response to GOP actions, particularly the move to block Merrick Garland from a vote during Obama’s last year in office.
“It’s not just about expansion, it’s about depoliticizing the Supreme Court,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said in a recent Politico story. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., told the outlet, “We are on the verge of a crisis of confidence in the Supreme Court” and “everything is on the table” to meet that supposed challenge.
“Limiting the number of seats to the nine we have currently,” Green contends, “would help ensure the U.S. Supreme Court remain an impartial branch beholden to the Constitution and no political party.”
The proposed amendment would have three sections, according to Green’s office:
The Supreme Court of the United States shall be composed of nine justices, though one or more of these nine offices may be vacant until filled.
If the size of the Supreme Court has been increased to more than nine justices before this amendment is ratified, upon this amendment’s ratification, those additional offices are void.
The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
In order to be ratified, a constitutional amendment proposed in Congress requires the votes of two-thirds of the members of both houses of Congress and must be approved by three-fourths of state legislatures. Amendments may also be proposed at a convention called for by at least two-thirds of state legislatures, per Article V of the Constitution.