Florida Senator Marco Rubio announced on Wednesday that he plans to introduce a constitutional amendment that would limit the Supreme Court to its current number of nine justices. According to an op-ed that he wrote for Fox News, Rubio wants to prevent Democrats from adding new seats in order to alter the balance of the court.
Rubio is joined in the House by Representative Mark Green from Tennessee, who announced on Tuesday that he would do the same.
“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,” Greene wrote on Twitter. “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,” he added.
In his opinion piece, Rubio wrote that the only way to unite the country is to head off the Democrats’ suggestion that they pack the court with justices in order to re-balance the seat that some of them believe was stolen when Mitch McConnell refused to vote on Obama’s Supreme Court pick Merrick Garland in 2016.
He calls the idea of packing the court potentially another event that will erode American trust in the system of government.
“To prevent the delegitimizing of the Supreme Court, I will introduce a constitutional amendment to keep the number of seats at nine,” he wrote.
We must prevent further destabilization of essential institutions.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 19, 2019
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. https://t.co/VBeJaWmeCV
The constitution doesn’t spell out the number of justices that must be on the court at any given time, but the number has remained at nine since 1869. Rubio believes that it should remain this way in order to stabilize the judicial branch of government.
Several Democratic contenders for the 2020 race have suggested that they would entertain the idea of adding justices. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said that she would have to think about the idea, but didn’t turn it down. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris have both said that it is an option that should be on the table.
Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke have both said that they believe the court needs an overhaul because it has become too political in recent years, though they didn’t specifically say that packing the court was the way to accomplish this revamping.
Rubio says that he believes the notion of adding seats to the Supreme Court has become a litmus test for Democrats running for office.