MADISON — On the heels of President Joe Biden creating a panel to expand the number of the justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, Rep. Mike Gallagher (WI-08) and five of his congressional colleagues are introducing a constitutional amendment that would prevent court packing.
The amendment would cap the number of justices at nine, a precedent dating back to 1869.
“We don’t need a commission to know court packing is a radical idea that would undermine confidence in one of our country’s most important — and trusted — institutions,” the Allouez Republican said in a press release. “The Supreme Court has been comprised of nine justices for more than 150 years, and it’s time we amend the Constitution to make this longstanding precedent permanent before it’s too late.”
Biden, who was shy about answering whether he would support court packing during the campaign, finally pulled out the commission idea in the days before the election. If he should ultimately sign off on expanding the court, it would be a significant departure from then-U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, who said this in 1993:
“President Roosevelt clearly had the right to send to the United States Senate and the United States Congress a proposal to pack the Court. It was totally within his right to do that—he violated no law, he was legalistically absolutely correct. But it was a bonehead idea. It was a terrible, terrible mistake to make, and it put in question, for an entire decade, the independence of the most significant body—including the Congress in my view—the most significant body in this country, the Supreme Court of the United States of America.”
The New York Times said expanding the Supreme Court is “an effort to balance the conservative majority created by Donald Trump.”
As Gallagher notes, court packing has been opposed not only by conservatives, but also by liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and former Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)