West Virginia Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito reintroduced a bill Friday that would limit the number of justices permitted in the Supreme Court.
“A nine Justice court has worked for our country for more than 150 years,” Capito said in a statement Friday. “Increasing that number in a partisan effort to achieve a desired policy result is a never-ending proposition.”
Following the death of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 18, 2020, Republicans in the Senate rushed to push through a new Supreme Court justice – securing a third Republican-appointed justice under President Trump.
Democrats furiously pointed to the hypocritical nature of the confirmation, reminding their fellow GOP lawmakers of their refusal to review President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, in March 2015, at which time they cited concerns over appointing a justice during an election year.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett was appointed to the high court on Oct. 27, 2020, just one week prior to the general election – causing a furious backlash from Democratic lawmakers, some vowing to “pack the courts” if Biden were elected.
The ability for Democrats to add more justices to the high court became a reality after the party won not only the White House, but majority control in the Senate.
“Once this door is opened, respect for the Supreme Court as an independent arbiter of cases and controversies would fall away as it became another partisan branch of government,” the West Virginia Republican said Friday. “We should preserve our independent judiciary by closing the door to court-packing.”
Though Supreme Court justices are intended to remain non-partisan in their judicial role, each justice tends to interpret the constitution in a manner that aligns with the White House’s political affiliation during their time of appointment.
There are currently six justices in the Supreme Court that were confirmed under conservative presidents, while only three were appointed under Democratic presidents – a division that some lawmakers have said does not accurately reflect the political standing of the nation.
Nine justices have sat on the Supreme Court for the last 150 years, but there is no language in the Constitution that sets or limits the number of justices permitted in the high court.
The legislation originally put forward by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in March 2019, calls for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would limit only nine justices permitted in the court at a time.
In October, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said that given the growth in population since 1876, when nine justices starting arbitrating from the high court, the U.S. may need to reevaluate the number of justices who regularly sit on the bench.
In order for Democrats to “pack the court,” they would have to add four justices under Biden in order to gain an edge over the number of conservatively appointed justices – a move Biden has said he does not support.
In the lead up to the election, Biden acknowledged Democrat’s frustration at what they believe is a disproportionate number of conservative versus liberal justices and said he would talk with “Constitutional scholars” to try and find a solution.
“If elected, what I will do is I’ll put together a national commission, a bipartisan commission of scholars, constitutional scholars, Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives,” Biden said during a campaign event in October. “I will ask them to, over 180 days, come back to me with recommendations as to how to reform the court system because it’s getting out of whack.”
Fox News could not confirm with the White House whether or not the president has yet to establish a commission to review the Supreme Court.
Senate Democratic leadership could not be reached by Fox News for this report.