Press Releases

Rep. Green Introduces Constitutional Amendment Limiting SCOTUS Seats to Nine

Washington, March 21, 2019

WASHINGTON – Reacting to news reports about "court-packing" and expanding the number of seats on the Supreme Court becoming a new litmus test for 2020, today Rep. Mark Green (R-TN) will introduce a constitutional amendment in the U.S. House limiting the number of Supreme Court seats to nine – the number of seats since 1869. The text of the amendment can be found at the bottom of this release.

“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,” said Rep. Mark Green. He explained further: “Democrats’ belief that the sitting originalist, Constitutionalist justices are partisan or beholden to GOP interests reveal something disturbing about their judicial philosophy. They want liberal, activist justices who will pass rulings that conform to their dystopian, socialist agenda. Democrats and Republicans alike should agree upon impartial justices who will rule according to the law and Constitution as written, not what they want the law or Constitution to be.”

During the era of the Warren Court post-World War II, a philosophy of jurisprudence dominated the Court that has been dubbed ‘Living Constitutionalism.’ What happened next is the Supreme Court intentionally began ruling as if the Constitution could be interpreted differently based on evolving cultural and social standards. The expression was that the document ‘evolves over time.’ Originalists, on the other hand, believe that justices should attempt to interpret the words of the Constitution as they were understood at the time they were written.  

Rep. Mark Green continued his thoughts: “Justices who believe in a ‘Living Constitutionalism’ can easily create and restrict the rights of Americans according to what they believe the Constitution ought to say in today’s setting. The Supreme Court justices then functionally operate as lawmakers, shifting power away from the legislative branch.

Green points out: "If Speaker Pelosi values her role, she should support this amendment and defend her branch of government.”

“The temptation to create a Court of super-legislators must be resisted,” said Rep. Green. “Limiting the number of seats to the nine we have currently would help ensure the U.S. Supreme Court remains an impartial branch beholden to the Constitution and no political party.”

The lure to “court pack” stems from Democrats’ belief that Republicans ‘stole’ a seat that belongs to Merrick Garland. In 2016, just hours after the public learned Justice Antonin Scalia passed away, Senate Majority Leader McConnell announced he would choose to honor a rule Joe Biden made in 1992 about nominating Supreme Court justices during a presidential election year. In 1992, Biden cited historical precedent and said that in the “full throes of an election year” presidents should not nominate a Supreme Court justice. President Obama ignored McConnell’s request to honor the Biden rule and nominated Merrick Garland to fill Scalia’s seat. McConnell, keeping his promise to follow the Biden rule, refused to hold hearings on Garland and said he believed the people should decide how to fill the empty seat by voting in the presidential election. Next, then-candidate Trump revealed a list of judges he would use as a pool to select the next Supreme Court justice. In November 2016, the American people chose Trump to select Scalia’s replacement. Not long after Trump’s swearing in the president nominated Neil Gorsuch, well known and recognized by Democrats and Republicans alike for being a fair and independent judge, to the vacant seat and he was confirmed by the spring term.

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Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to require that the Supreme Court of the United States be composed of nine justices.

 

Section 1:

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.

 

Section 2:

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. 

 

Section 3:

The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

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