Republican lawmakers announced Tuesday that they would be introducing a constitutional amendment this week that would stop the recent push by some Democrats to increase the number of justices on the Supreme Court.
Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., slammed calls by 2020 Democratic hopefuls to increase the number of sitting judges as “dangerous” and a threat to the balance of power among the three branches of government.
“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 wrote on Twitter.
Green said he intends to file a constitutional amendment Thursday that would limit the number of justices to 9 – the number it has been since 1869.
“The Supreme Court must remain a fair and impartial branch of government not beholden to party.”
Several Democrats on the campaign trail, including former Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., have signaled their openness to expanding the number of judges on the court if they enter the White House.
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But Republicans fired back, with even the President saying “it will never happen.”
Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden on Tuesday that the move to increase seats comes after the new administration was able to seat two new judges -Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh – following the Dems’ loss in the 2016 elections.
“I wouldn’t entertain that. The only reason that they’re doing that is they want to try and catch up, so if they can’t catch up through the ballot box by winning an election, they want to try doing it in a different way,” he said.
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Other Republican lawmakers have backed Green’s proposal, including Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who also announced plans to introduce a similar measure in the Senate.
“We must prevent further destabilization of essential institutions,” he wrote on Twitter. “Court packing is quickly becoming a litmus test for 2020 Democratic candidates.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called increasing calls for expanding the court “ironic.”
“I find it ironic Democrats want to increase the size of the Supreme Court, but gut the military.”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called the idea to expand the courts “radical.”
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The Constitution does not establish a set number of justices; that is up to Congress. There were initially six members of the high court — then seven, then nine, then down to eight, then up to ten for a while, then back down to eight, and then ticking up to nine in 1869.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Bill mears contributed to this report.