Florida Senator Marco Rubio has announced that he plans on introducing an amendment to the Constitution to keep nine seats on the Supreme Court. Rubio’s announcement came on Tuesday after several Democratic presidential candidates, including Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, and Kamala Harris, came forward to express that they are open to “court packing.” Their goal is to increase the number of seats on the Supreme Court to fill them with liberal justices.
According to MSNBC, when Cory Booker, a 2020 Democratic candidate from New Jersey, was asked about court packing, he said that he supports “having a national conversation” to make changes to the high court. He also believes that every justice should have limits to their term that allows every president to choose three justices.
Rubio explained that he intended on blocking any attempt at court packing. “We must prevent further destabilization of essential institutions. Court packing is quickly becoming a litmus test for 2020 Democratic candidates. Therefore I will be introducing a constitutional amendment to keep the number of seats on #SCOTUS at 9,” said Rubio.
Rubio also wrote an Op-Ed for Fox News that read: “The rhetoric used by some of my Democratic colleagues that suggests our institutions are increasingly unable to resolve modern society’s conflicts is dangerous.” He also recalled how Franklin Roosevelt, who was a Democrat, had proposed the same thing 82 years ago because he was tired of the Supreme Court blocking his progressive agenda. According to History.com, the Judicial Reform Bill of 1937 would have allowed the chief executive to select up to six justices to the court for every current justice who was older than 70 and had served more than 10 years.
Director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia, Barbara Perry, told History.com that a majority of the public didn’t support the bill and it was never voted on by Congress. “Congress and the people viewed FDR’s ill-considered proposal as an undemocratic power grab. The chief justice (Charles Evans Hughes) testified before Congress that the Court was up to date in its work, countering Roosevelt’s stated purpose that the old justices needed help with their caseload,” she explained.
“It was never realistic that this plan would pass. Roosevelt badly miscalculated reverence for the Court and its independence from an overreaching president.” Senior resident historian of the Roosevelt Institute, David B. Woolner, also agreed that FDR “really bungled it politically.”
According to the legal analyst for Fox News, Shannon Bream, the constitution doesn’t set the number of justices on the Supreme Court. Bream explained that it was up to Congress to choose the number of seats. The number of justices has gone from six to ten, but it has remained at nine for the past 150 years.
On Tuesday, President Trump vowed that the number of justices will stay at nine as long as he’s in charge. “I wouldn’t entertain (changing the number of justices). The only reason (the Democrats) are doing that is they want to catch up. So if they can’t catch up at the ballot box, by winning an election, they want to try doing it in a different way. We would have no interest in that whatsoever. It will never happen. I guarantee it won’t happen for six years,” Trump said to reporters.
Political editor for Town Hall, Guy Benson, made a joke on Fox News about wishing that Trump had supported the move. “I’m glad the president said what he said, but part of me wishes he’d come out in favor of court packing or floated the notion that he might do it, because that would get the Democrats to oppose it, which they should,” he said.
On a more serious note, Benson added: “This an astonishing thing, really. Court packing, this is banana republic stuff, and from a crowd that has been lecturing us now for two years about norms and institutions and the erosion of institutions thereof under this president, and they have a point sometimes, for them to turn around and say, ‘We want to pack the Supreme Court and add justices.’” He continued by saying: “This is the opposite of respecting norms and institutions. … They lost so they want to blame the system. They want to change the rules because they lost.”