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Catherine Mortensen / April 16, 2021

Protecting Judicial Independence Ought to Be Bipartisan

Congress must reject the blatant politicization of the Supreme Court by taking a stand opposing court-packing.

As a second-term senator in 1983, Joe Biden called former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s court-packing proposal a “bonehead idea,” but 38 years later as president, Biden created a commission to study the Supreme Court. Biden recently tasked the group with studying “structural changes” to the Supreme Court and gave the group 180 days to produce a report on a range of thorny topics including court expansion and term limits. In addition, congressional Democrats are forcing Biden’s hand by introducing legislation to expand the Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices.

This is, of course, an outrageous power grab and an affront to our courts.

Each member of Congress, regardless of party, ought to reject this blatant politicization of the Supreme Court. This move to pack the court would undermine judicial independence and is evidence that the very slender, far-left Democrat majority intends to seize and maintain power using any tactic available.

Given that court-packing is now actively in play, every GOP senator and House member along with any rational Democrat members of Congress must push back by cosponsoring the Keep Nine constitutional amendment by Senator Ted Cruz (SJR 9) and Rep. Dusty Johnson (HJR 11).

The Keep Nine amendment has more than 100 House cosponsors and has gained unanimous support from the Republican National Committee, along with support from Rep. John Katko (R-NY), chair of the liberal Republican Governance Group; Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ); and Republican Study Committee leader Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN). This broad-based, conference-wide support demonstrates there is no disagreement about the need for the Keep Nine amendment, which simply states, “The Supreme Court of the United States shall be composed of nine Justices.”

To date, not a single Democrat member of the House or Senate has cosponsored the amendment even though one of its original supporters was former Rep. Colin Peterson (D-MN).

Keep Nine is not a partisan issue. Recent polling by John McLaughlin shows that the Keep Nine amendment enjoys 62% support. Among voters with an opinion, overwhelming majorities of both Republicans and Democrats support the Keep Nine amendment.

During his 2020 campaign, Biden rejected the court-packing idea floated by some in his party. In 2019, he told reporters that he was “not prepared to go on and try to pack the Court, because we’ll live to rue that day.”

He expanded on those comments during the October 2019 Democrat primary debate, saying, “We add three justices. Next time around, we lose control, they add three justices. We begin to lose any credibility the Court has at all.”

In addition, Justice Stephen G. Breyer recently warned against court expansion, saying it could make the court more political and undermine trust in the institution. “Structural alteration motivated by the perception of political influence can only feed that latter perception, further eroding that trust,” Breyer said in a speech at Harvard Law School last week.

Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week she does not support the current court-packing legislation and won’t bring it to the House floor for a vote.

But it’s not enough for politicians to publicly express skepticism about court-packing. Americans expect action rather than hollow words and there simply is no excuse for Pelosi or any other lawmaker not to cosponsor the Cruz and Johnson amendment.

Congress must reject this blatant politicization of the Supreme Court by taking a stand opposing court-packing by cosponsoring the Keep Nine constitutional amendment.

You cannot say you oppose court-packing and not cosponsor Keep Nine — a clear, straightforward amendment to the Constitution to prevent current and future attempts to politicize the Court by manipulating its makeup.

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