“Court-packing” in this context means increasing the number of seats on the Supreme Court in order for the ruling political party to gain a majority through nominations of their preferred candidates.
The number of Supreme Court justices is not specified in the Constitution. Instead, the number is determined by federal law, which currently calls for nine justices. Federal law is much easier to amend than the Constitution, leaving the number of court seats subject to the vagaries of politics and changing Congressional makeup.
Cruz’s amendment would put a stop to that. It reads in its entirety: “The Supreme Court of the United States shall be composed of nine justices.”
Cruz released a statement saying the Democratic party wants to pack the court with liberal justices, but that the Supreme Court needs to be independent and not subject to the whims of whichever party controls the White House.
All sponsors of the bill are Republican Senators. They are Roger Marshall (KS), Bill Hagerty (TN), Mike Lee (UT), Tom Cotton (AR), Chuck Grassley (IA), Josh Hawley, (MT), Thom Tillis (NC), John Kennedy (LA), Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS), and Mike Braun (IN).
The issue of “court packing” has heated up since the conservative Supreme Court has handed down decisions that have angered the Democratic party and their constituents. The most controversial recent ruling was the 2022 overturning of the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v Wade. That 1973 decision barred states from banning abortion within the first trimester.
The high court overturned that decision last year, returning the sole right to regulate abortion to the individual states.
The Constitution was written to make it possible – but difficult – to amend the founding document. If Cruz’s amendment passes in Congress, the issue would then go to the states. In order for a Constitutional amendment to become effective, three-fourths of the states would have to agree to it.
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