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Davis Co-Sponsors Constitutional Amendment to Set Number of SCOTUS Justices at Nine

U.S. Representative Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) is co-sponsoring a constitutional amendment, H.J.Res. 11, to set the number of justices who sit on the Supreme Court of the United States at nine. Since 1869, the Supreme Court has had nine justices. The amendment was introduced by Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD).

“The Democrats’ proposal to pack the Supreme Court with four new justices is nothing but a political power grab that would destroy the integrity of the judiciary and make our politics more extreme,” said Davis. “We should be doing everything we can to promote trust in the judiciary and insulate the Supreme Court from politics, and this court packing proposal would do the opposite. I’d like to thank Rep. Johnson for introducing this constitutional amendment in the House, and I look forward to working with him and our colleagues in Congress to pass this resolution so we can protect the Supreme Court and keep it at nine.”

“The idea to pack the court is no longer conceptual, it’s a legitimate threat to politicize our nation’s most sacred judicial institution,” said Johnson. “Our constitutional amendment to safeguard the Supreme Court from partisan politics has strong support, and I’m grateful Rep. Davis is leading this fight with me in the House. We can’t risk compromising the public trust of the highest court in the land.”

The constitutional amendment simply states, “The Supreme Court of the United States shall be composed of nine justices.” For the constitutional amendment to be adopted, both chambers of Congress must pass the joint resolution, followed by three-fourths of state legislatures ratifying the resolution within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification. The constitutional amendment currently has 139 co-sponsors in the U.S. House.

Recently, prominent Democrats have called for packing the court by breaking with the 152-year, nine-justice precedent to add four additional justices, for a total of 13.

In 1983, then-Senator Joe Biden called President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s plan to pack the Supreme Court with six additional justices a “bonehead idea” and “a terrible, terrible mistake to make.”

In 2019, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke out against court packing. "I have heard that there are some people on the Democratic side who would like to increase the number of judges," Ginsburg said. "I think that was a bad idea when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried to pack the court."

"Nine seems to be a good number, and it’s been that way for a long time," she observed.

Recently, Justice Stephen Breyer warned members of Congress against court packing. “What I’m trying to do is to make those whose instincts may favor important structural change or other similar institutional changes such as forms of court packing to think long and hard before they embody those changes in law,” Breyer said.

“I hope and expect that the court will retain its authority … which was hard won. But that authority, like the rule of law, depends on trust. A trust that the court is guided by legal principle, not politics. Structural alteration motivated by the perception of political influence can only feed that latter perception, further eroding that trust.”

President Biden recently signed an executive order to study expanding the Supreme Court.