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Ted Cruz files bill to prevent Dems from expanding Supreme Court

 March 24, 2023

For the past several years, progressive activists and some elected Democrats have pushed a proposal to "pack" or expand the U.S. Supreme Court with the addition of more liberal-leaning justices to counterbalance the current conservative-leaning 6-3 majority.

In response to that concerted Democratic effort of high court expansion, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has filed a bill to amend the U.S. Constitution and permanently establish the size of the Supreme Court at nine justices, the U.K.'s The Guardian reported.

Constitutional amendment proposed

Sen. Cruz on Wednesday reintroduced his proposed constitutional amendment to make the current size of the Supreme Court permanent that he had first put forward without success in the evenly split Senate in 2021.

"The Democrats’ answer to a Supreme Court that is dedicated to upholding the rule of law and the Constitution is to pack it with liberals who will rule the way they want," Cruz said in a statement. "The Supreme Court should be independent, not inflated by every new administration. That’s why I’ve introduced a constitutional amendment to permanently keep the number of justices at nine."

The senator's joint resolution states quite simply: "The Supreme Court of the United States shall be composed of nine justices."

In order to for that proposal to take effect, the measure would need to first be approved by two-thirds of the members of both the House and Senate and then be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures within seven years.

The Democratic push for expansion

This proposed constitutional amendment from Sen. Cruz was first put forward in 2021 in response to progressive activist-backed legislation filed by Democrats, according to NBC News, to expand the size of the Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices.

The explicit purpose of that measure was to swiftly add four more liberal-leaning jurists to the high court to immediately alter the ideological balance of the court from its 6-3 Republican-appointed majority to a 7-6 Democratic-appointed majority.

It was not well-received by skeptical Democratic leaders for various reasons, the primary concern being that Republicans would simply expand the court further in the future, additionally, it was not endorsed by President Joe Biden, who made it clear that he is generally "not a fan" of the idea of court-packing.

Biden instead established a special commission to study certain proposed court reforms, like expansion and term limits, but that commission made no recommendations and simply outlined the pros and cons of each idea, per SCOTUSblog.

There was a renewed push from Democrats for court expansion in July 2022, however, according to The Hill, that was even more explicitly partisan than the effort a year earlier.

That came in the aftermath of several monumental Supreme Court decisions on issues like abortion, gun control, environmental regulations, and religious freedom, to name a few, that were viewed as more favorable to conservatives than liberals and progressives.

Support from fellow Republicans

According to a press release from Sen. Cruz, his proposed amendment already had the support of nearly a dozen other co-sponsors, including Republican Sens. Mike Braun (IN), Tom Cotton (AR), Chuck Grassley (IA), Bill Hagerty (TN), Josh Hawley (MO), Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS), John Kennedy (LA), Mike Lee (UT), Roger Marshall (KS), Thom Tillis (NC), and Todd Young (IN).

Sen. Cotton said in a statement, "The progressive left will do anything to gain power, including packing and expanding the Supreme Court with judges that share their radical ideology. This bill will help permanently protect the Court’s integrity from partisan threats."

Likewise, Sen. Hawley said, "For years the left has been desperate to pack the court to promote their radical agenda. We must ensure that we stay true to the court’s founding principles, maintain the precedent of nine justices, and keep the Democrats from their brazen attempts to rig our democracy."

They were both echoed by Sen. Kennedy, who said, "The effort to pack the Supreme Court and turn justices into politicians in robes would delegitimize and destroy one of the most important institutions in America. Congress must protect the judicial branch from political expedience by safeguarding its current structure."

Though this proposal from Sen. Cruz obviously has support from fellow Republicans, it is unlikely to become a fully ratified constitutional amendment given the high bars of approval required in Congress and the states, particularly at a time when the nation is fairly evenly split in terms of partisan ideology.