Keep number of SCOTUS justices at nine, say Johnson, 97 Republicans

U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) and almost 100 of his Republican colleagues support a joint resolution in their chamber proposing an amendment to the United States Constitution that would limit the number of U.S. Supreme Court justices to nine.

“Recent years have brought more calls to pack the Court or expand the Court,” Rep. Johnson said. “This is a terrible idea.”

The congressman on Jan. 9 sponsored House Joint Resolution (H.J.Res.) 8, which as of Jan. 12 had 97 Republican cosponsors, including 80 original cosponsors. Rep. Johnson in January 2021 sponsored the identical H.J.Res. 11, which garnered 183 GOP cosponsors but stalled in committee, as did a similar joint resolution introduced the same year in the U.S. Senate.

According to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) website, the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power to determine how many justices sit on SCOTUS. The number of justices has ranged between five and 10, but since 1869 has been set at nine. The president nominates someone for a vacancy on SCOTUS and the Senate votes to confirm the nominee, which requires a simple majority. In this way, both the Executive and Legislative Branches of the federal government have a voice in the composition of SCOTUS.

“As defenders of the Constitution, the Supreme Court’s check on the executive and legislative branches is essential to keeping our government free and fair,” said Rep. Johnson. “Turning the Supreme Court into a political football will erode public trust in our institutions and nullify intentions set by our Founding Fathers.

“Capping the Supreme Court at nine Justices will protect the integrity of the Supreme Court,” he added.

The resolution is supported by the Keep Nine Coalition, the National Federation of Republican Women, and the Association of Mature American Citizens.