- The Washington Times
Friday, October 15, 2021

Seventeen former state attorneys general wrote President Biden’s Supreme Court reform commission this week, urging it to consider a constitutional amendment that would fix the number of justices at nine.

“There is no specific proposal for Supreme Court reform that has more support in Congress and across the nation than the ‘Keep Nine’ Amendment,” they wrote, citing bipartisan support for the measure from “more than 200 members of Congress and a bipartisan total of more than 1,000 elected officials nationwide.”

The Keep Nine Coalition made its letter public Friday as the commission held its fourth public meeting since it was formed by executive order in April.

The commission was widely seen as an attempt to drum up support for packing the Supreme Court with additional justices, a move liberals have pushed for after former President Trump appointed three justices during his term, leading to a 6-3 conservative majority on the bench.

The commission noted there was precedent for increasing the number of justices, which has held at nine since 1869, but it also warned of significant political backlash if the court were expanded.

“We write to urge that in your deliberations on Oct. 15 and in the report you issue in November, you and the other members of the commission consider and discuss the proposed ‘Keep Nine’ amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” said the letter written by former Tennessee Attorney General Paul Summers and former Virginia Attorney General Stephen Rosenthal.

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The group is scheduled to deliver a final report to Mr. Biden by mid-November. The report is expected to detail the pros and cons of various proposals to alter the makeup of the court.

The amendment, which states simply that “the Supreme Court of the United States shall be composed of nine justices,” was introduced as a resolution by Rep. Collin Peterson, Minnesota Democrat, in September 2020. 

Mr. Biden’s commission appeared divided Friday over whether to support packing the court but did not comment on the “Keep Nine Amendment.”

That’s a mistake, Mr. Summers said.

“If the commission is serious about its mission to ‘provide an analysis of the principal arguments in the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform,’ then there is no good reason for the commission not to give serious consideration to the ‘Keep Nine Amendment,” he said.

The last president to try to add justices to the high court was Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937, but even the overwhelmingly Democratic Congress opposed the move.

Alex Swoyer contributed to this story.

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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